Single page view By Kieran Darcy
Page 2

PHILADELPHIA – It's only fitting I covered the Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleaders 2005 final audition.

A year and a half ago, I agreed to try out to be a Chicago Bulls Matador – even though I'm a Knicks fan (embarrassing as it is to admit these days) and I weighed about 200 pounds less than most of the other contestants. So I always hoped, one day, I could do a story on some real cheerleaders.

Attractive cheerleaders.

Eagles Cheerleaders
The judges take in the view (including our own reporter peeking his nose out on the far right).

You know, females?

Yes, I'm a Giants fan. And yes, I can't stand the Eagles. So why the Eagles Cheerleaders?

Come on, people. Have you ever seen the famous Eagles Cheerleaders lingerie calendar? There's a reason why, when you first click on the "Cheerleaders" section of the Eagles' website, you first get a warning message saying, "Please note, this area contains age-appropriate content." The only other websites where I've seen a warning message like that pop up are ... uh, never mind.

Anyway, I happened to hear that the final audition for this year's squad was taking place last week, so I pitched (pleaded with) my editor here at Page 2 about letting me cover the festivities. We decided the story would be more fun if I could participate in the event somehow. So I called the Eagles Cheerleaders director, Barbara Zaun, with the idea of being a towel boy or a water boy backstage during the competition.

Barbara had a better idea.

"Want to be a celebrity judge?"

Hmmm. Had to think really hard about that one.

On the Amtrak train from New York City to Philadelphia on Thursday afternoon, I questioned my qualifications to be a "celebrity judge." I'm certainly no celebrity (though I'm told rather frequently I bear a striking resemblance to Peyton Manning). And I'd never judged a contest of any kind before.

But then I thought better of things. After all, I work for Page 2, the home of the Hottest Athlete contest. And I help out with our photo production, which involves the painstaking analysis of ... certain details.

I came to three conclusions: 1) I could handle this; 2) I would take my choices very seriously; And 3) I probably wouldn't be able to resist scoring any contestant through the roof if she so much as batted an eyelash at me.

I arrived early at the Keswick Theatre, found Ms. Zaun and introduced myself. While I was waiting for the other judges to arrive, I was interviewed on the Eagles Television Network. The interviewer asked me why I felt I was qualified to help pick a cheerleading squad. My response was something like, "Well, as sportswriters, we're supposed to focus on what's happening on the field. But I think many of us will admit that we can't help but look at the lovely ladies on the sidelines from time to time."

Amazing how bright lights and a rolling camera can elicit brutal honesty from a person.

After the interview, I watched as some of the contestants practiced their dance moves on stage. And I fell in love (for the first time that evening) with a very cute blonde wearing a lavender sports bra and tight black shorts. (That's what they all were wearing, in various colors.) I decided I'd definitely have to keep a particular eye on her during the competition.



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