Cheerleader Courtney Lenz (R) during a game against the Oakland Raiders
Photo: Getty Images
Fans have started an online petition to get Courtney Lenz to the Super Bowl after the veteran Baltimore Ravens cheerleader was omitted from the travelling squad.
Lenz, 23, has been a member of the Ravens cheer squad for the past five years but did not receive an invitation to the NFL showpiece game, which will be held in New Orleans this Sunday.
Lenz says the snub is payback after she announced her retirement from cheerleading at Baltimore's final home game against the Indianapolis Colts in December.
She joined the team as an 18-year-old in college but has since graduated and found it too difficult to combine her cheering responsibilities with a full-time job.
"They've been really hard on me this year since I told them I was leaving," Lenz told ABC News. "I was the only three-plus year veteran not going. I immediately thought it was a mistake."
"I wouldn't even have reached out and let fans know if I didn't think it was clearly wrong.
"I'm just devastated by the whole situation. This was very unexpected … I didn't even think there would be a chance of me not going with being a five-year veteran."
Debbie Kammerer, a 52-year-old Baltimore Ravens fan, created an online petition to get Lenz to the Super Bowl after learning of the snub. So far, she has received over 12,500 signatures.
"We're just angry," Kammerer said.
"She was 57th among the hottest NFL cheerleaders this season. People want to burn their jerseys and don't want to support the Ravens anymore."
My heart isn't even wanting to go [to the Super Bowl]. I could save $3,500. This is totally wrong."
According to Kammerer's petition, Lenz earned the ire of Ravens officials for putting in less 'appearance hours' than in seasons past, and was also benched during the regular season for gaining two pounds (0.9 kilograms).
Despite the attention, it seems unlikely Lenz will earn a reprieve from the Ravens.
"As set by the NFL, we are permitted to bring 32 cheerleaders to the Super Bowl. Our selection process was based upon three criteria: seniority, performance ability and personal conduct throughout the season. As much as we would like to take the whole team, we are unable to do so, due to parameters set by the NFL," spokeswoman Heather Harness said in a statement.