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Saints cut cheerleading squad

April 19, 1997

NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ The New Orleans Saints cheerleaders have never had much to cheer about. Now, the 16-member squad has nothing to cheer about after being eliminated by the NFL team.

``We’ve been with them through thick and thin, and Lord knows there’s been a lot more thin than thick,″ said cheerleading director Darlene Bonis said. ``I was on the original squad. This would have been my 31st year.″

Greg Suit, senior vice president of marketing and administration, announced the cut Friday.

``We are trying to present what most of our customers want to see in addition to the football game,″ he said.

The cheerleaders have occupied one corner of the field with Saintsations dance team taking the other three. Suit said the dancers now will have all four corners, with 40 dancers instead of 36.

The men and women on the squad recently received letters from the Saints organization welcoming them to cheerleader tryouts May 3 and asking them to help out during Saturday’s NFL draft.

``This move to get rid of us couldn’t have been thought out, or why would it be happening two weeks before tryouts?″ she said.

She said she had missed only two games in 30 years _ for back surgery and childbirth.

Cheerleaders get $10 and two tickets when they appear at a game. ``And we all know what the tickets have been worth,″ cheerleading captain Sal Bertolino said.

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