Road Trip: The 2017 Arizona Cardinals Cheerleaders

Its not often that I get out and go on road trips to visit football teams and their cheerleading squads, but when the opportunity to presents itself…I’m all in.  And this past weekend, I was able hit the road to check out the 2017 Arizona Cardinals…or more properly, the 2017 Arizona Cardinals Cheerleaders.

I rolled into Phoenix for a quick trip and I met my buddy Max and his friend Carlos at my hotel three hours before kick off.  Max had pulled an all-niter photographing the Big 10 Championship game in Indianapolis, then caught an early morning flight from Chicago to Phoenix to catch this game.

I looked forward to this road trip because it was a chance to reconnect with friends and it was my first chance to see the 2017 Arizona Cardinals Cheerleaders on game day.  A few months prior, I had covered their auditions and I was looking forward to seeing the squad in action.  I knew that the Arizona Cardinals had a great squad because they attracted some very beautiful and talented dancers at their auditions and I really looked forward to photographing them on the sidelines.

Let’s take a look at what I got.












More photos after the break.

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Battle For Los Angeles – The 2017 Los Angeles Rams Cheerleaders

This past weekend, the Los Angeles Chargers battled the Los Angeles Rams for the title, “best team in L.A.”.  Okay, I made that one up.  It was just another preseason game, but there was a significance here.  Both teams are desperately trying to establish a strong fan base in their newly adopted city.  Battle lines have been drawn and there are passionate fans for both teams…unfortunately, not a whole lot of them showed up at the Coliseum to cheer on their team.  Frankly, it was a little disappointing considering this is a game with two teams residing in the second most populous city in the country.  But it was a preseason game and few teams sell out their stadiums for preseason games.  

One way to build a fan base is to have a cheerleading squad and to leverage that brand.  I guess this is where comes in because we were fortunate to be granted media access to the Rams game against the visiting Chargers and no one covers cheerleaders like we do on game days.  I guess its because other media outlets are more interested in covering game action.  That’s understandable.

I eagerly anticipated this special occasion because anytime you get to photograph the Los Angeles Rams Cheerleaders up close and personal, it is a special occasion.  But when game day came around, I had one of the worst situations a photographer could experience…I broke my main shooting lens, my 70-300 L telephoto lens!  I’m not exactly sure what happened, but shortly before player introductions, I noticed my telephoto zoom lens was locked at 220mm and the focus, both manual and auto-focus, ceased to function.  I “bricked” my telephoto zoom lens and I would have to shoot the Rams Cheerleaders with my 24-70 L wide angle zoom. 

It’s not an ideal circumstance…to have to use a wide angle zoom, but it’s was the only option left for me.  That meant I had to shoot rather close to the cheerleaders instead a bit farther away, which I prefer to do with my telephoto lens.  Perhaps it was a bit too close…certainly for my tastes, but it is what it is and I was not going to let this misfortune stop me from getting the very best images I could get.

Shooting the Rams Cheerleaders that close wasn’t what I wanted to do…it was what I had to do. 

And this is what I got for my troubles.













My thanks to Director Keely Fimbres-Bledsoe, the Rams Cheerleaders, and the Rams Media Relations staff for this wonderful experience. 

Breaking my primary lens put a damper on what I wanted to accomplish, but we soldiered on and the following is a visual documentation of my game day experience.  So let’s take a more in depth look at the 2017 Los Angeles Rams Cheerleaders.

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Snapshots: Ladies of Ontario Fury – 01/26/17

A little known secret in professional sports is the MASL, an indoor soccer league composed of 17 teams that play a brand of soccer that can only be described as up tempo, fast break soccer.  It’s fast paced, high scoring and very exciting to watch.  It’s physical too! I saw a player get checked into the dasher boards and he was horizontal as he crashed into the corner.  He had to take a minute or two to compose himself…I bet he thought MASL soccer was non-contact.  Not hardly.

Many of the MASL squads have dance teams.  Of course, being from Los Angeles, my team is the Ontario Fury and they have a very special dance team…the Ladies of Ontario Fury.  When January and February come around, I like to spend some quality time with the Ladies of Ontario Fury.  This past Friday, I attended the Ontario Fury game against the Dallas Sidekicks game.  And let me tell you, that game was an exciting, back and forth affair that only ended with an overtime goal by the home team.

Final Score: Ontario Fury – 11, Dallas Sidekicks – 10 OT

What I like about going to a Fury game is that you can get up close and personal to watch the game and get up close and personal with the Ladies of Ontario Fury.  Indoor soccer is an intimate game…wink! wink!

So let’s take a look at some snapshots that I took at the game.













There are many more photos after the break, including photos of their special country themed halftime performance.

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For The Chargers…What Tomorrow Brings, No One Knows

This past game was my final Chargers game for the season and as I wrote last year, there is a tremendous amount of uncertainty surround this franchise.  Will it be the San Diego Chargers or the Los Angeles “Re-branded Team”.  A rumor was spread on social media during the middle of the Raiders game that Dean Spanos has planned to re-brand the team for the eventual and inevitable move to Los Angeles.  That made quite a stir for Charger fans in the ether of the internet, but you wouldn’t have noticed it at Qualcomm stadium since it was essentially a Raiders home game and hardly a Charger fan was to be seen.

But to the point, there is a lot of uncertainty when it comes to the future of this franchise.  There is no stadium deal in the works and the last, best chance at a new deal, a ballot initiative, was voted down in the November election.  Relocating to Los Angeles is still on the table, but if you read the reports on the internet, sharing a brand spanking new stadium with Stan Kroenke’s Rams is a less than ideal situation for Spanos, something that he would only consider as a final option when all the other San Diego alternatives have been exhausted.  And now, that seems like the only possibility left for the Chargers.

For what do they get if they move the team to Los Angeles?  They will undoubtedly double or triple the book value of the franchise the moment they change the address on their stationary, but they will also have to build their fan base from the bottom up as the second class tenant in a city that now belongs to the Rams.  The core of it’s current fan base, San Diegans, will not support this team.  They will not buy season tickets.  They will not buy merchandise.  They will not travel north to see a game.  So the worse case scenario for Dean Spanos is to move to Los Angeles and start over in a city rife with teams competing for the sports and entertainment dollar.  And this city doesn’t support losing franchises, not with so many other teams to choose from.

So as the season winds down, so does the doomsday clock.  What would you do, if you were the owner of the Chargers?  Me?  I would exercise the Los Angeles option, but choose to play the next two or three seasons in San Diego until Kroenke’s stadium is built.  Yeah, it’s not ideal, but it gives Spanos a few more years to try to work something out here and if nothing comes to fruition, then I would make the move up north.  I mean the Chargers should be in San Diego.  It’s what the owner wants.  It’s what the NFL wants…so they say.  And it’s what Charger fans want.

But in the end, this has to be a business decision…and the NFL is all about big business.

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Speaking of the game…the 10-2 Raiders were in town to play the Chargers in a game that had a lot of significance in determining the outcome of the AFC West.  There was a lot at stake for the Raiders and their fan base turned out in droves to support their team.  The Chargers radio announcers estimated that the crowd was 80% Raiders fans and that might not be too much of an exaggeration.  It was a sea of black clad fans cheering for the visiting team.

You would have expected the Raiders, whom some consider to be the second best team in the AFC, to come in and plunder the hapless Chargers, but that didn’t happen.  In fact, it was a tightly contested game with the Chargers essentially leading or tying the Raiders well into the fourth quarter when the Raiders scored two field goals to win the game.


Final Score: Oakland Raiders – 19, San Diego Chargers – 16

A most competitive and entertaining game and well worth the price of admission.  And another thing well worth the price of admission…the hottest dance team in the NFL, your San Diego Charger Girls.










Got to love the Charger Girls wearing their blue velvet Christmas uniforms…there’s nothing better than that to kick off the holiday season!  Oh, and you know what my favorite stocking stuffer is?  The Charger Girls!!!  Okay, enough of the bad puns.

Let’s begin our final game day report with the Captains: Marissa, Bridget, Teran and Delani.





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Untimely Interceptions Doom The Chargers

Week 13 of the NFL season and what have we learned so far?  There is no more relevant metric than turnovers and to put it simply, if you turn the ball over you’ll lose the game.  Or as former Dallas Cowboys lineman Dave Widell has said, “Turnovers are like ex-wives.  The more you have, the more they cost you.”

Proponents of football analytics believe there’s a fairly strong correlation between turnover differential and winning percentage, namely that 44% of the variation in a team’s winning percentage can be explained by their turnover differential.  And this past Sunday, the Chargers lost the turnover battle when Philip Rivers threw two untimely interceptions, one of which was returned for a defensive touchdown.  Consequently, the Chargers lost the game to the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Final Score: Captain Fear – 28, Boltman – 21

There’s another truism in the NFL and that is…if your team has a squad of hot cheerleaders, you’re going to have a great day regardless if you win or lose.  And yeah, I had a great day!









Well…the season is winding down and for some teams, it’s winning time…the final push for the playoffs.  And for others, it’s time to evaluate players, coaches and staff for next year.  There’s only four weeks left in the regular season and the Chargers are barely alive in the playoff hunt.  With a 5-7 record, they’re the 12th seed and need to improve six places in order to make the postseason.  Unfortunately, the three other Western Division teams are among the top six seeds and it is not likely that the Chargers will be able to overtake any of them.  Oh well.

So let’s begin this week’s coverage of the Hottest Dance Team in the NFL with the Captains: Bridget, Teran, Marissa, and Delani.





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Rain Dance – The 2016 Los Angeles Rams Cheerleaders

Who said it never rains in Southern California?  Well it certainly did last Sunday…and I am sure the visiting Miami Dolphins were well accustomed to that, but for me and 28 Los Angeles Rams Cheerleaders, it was a surreal experience.













So, what are those spots you see in some of those photos above?  To Southern Californians, they’re more precious than gold…it’s mana from heaven…rain drops.  Now rain wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I found out I was going to shoot the Dolphins game, but its what I got.  And I must say it made for some interesting photographs and the Rams Cheerleaders seemed to take it all in stride and had a great time out there.  I know I did.

It’s been almost two decades since I was last at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.  I was a Raiders season ticket holder back then, so coming back to shoot this game brought back some fond memories…and the realization why the Rams need a new crib.  It’s a venerable old stadium, but it’s outdated and the amenities are insufficient for a modern game.  While waiting for the kickoff, several photographers huddled in a cramped area near the west end zone.  We were dodging the rain.  I remember that space being used by the Raiders band back in the 90’s, but it has since been converted to a media room for photographers and their editors to work.  It has the advantage to being very close to the field and the WIFI was good, but…well you know.

Last week, the Miami Dolphins played the Chargers in San Diego and I think they remained in Southern California to play the Rams this Sunday.  Another week, and another opportunity for both teams.  In fact, it was a rather momentous game for the home town Rams as Jared Goff was starting for the first time in his NFL career.  Goff was the number one overall pick in the NFL draft and Rams fans have been eagerly awaiting his debut.  I mean you don’t select a player #1 overall, pay him all that money to let him ride the pine.  No, you got to play him and see what he can do.

And for his first NFL start, Goff did okay, throwing for 134 yards and more importantly zero interceptions.  The Rams led the visiting Dolphins for most of the game, taking a 10 point lead deep into the fourth quarter.  I made the mistake of assuming the game was in the bag with about six minutes to go because up until that point, the Dolphins had only passed for about 70 yards and the Fins hadn’t really threatened to score.  But in their final two possessions of the game, the visitors put together two sustained drives and scored 14 points to steal victory away from the Rams.  And a steal it was because up until that time, the Dolphins only managed to cross mid-field twice…twice in 54 minutes of game play.

Well, I did manage to snap a few game photos and the last one below was from the pass play that won the game for the Dolphins.








Yeah, back in the day I used to shoot other things than cheerleaders…but cheerleaders are all that I shoot today.  So on with the show!

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Philip Rivers Turns San Diego Into Pick City

It was an unseasonably hot Sunday in Southern California…perfect weather for some football.  The Miami Dolphins made a cross country trek to battle the San Diego Chargers in a game that was played more for pride than a chance at the playoffs.  Both teams, sporting mediocre records, are long shots at making the postseason considering that there are three better teams in the AFC West with seven wins each.  Realistically this was a game that had little playoff relevance, but that doesn’t mean it was a game played without entertainment value.  For surely, it was…especially if you were a Dolphins fan.

In a tightly contested game, Philip Rivers threw three touchdown passes to move past John Elway for eighth place on the career list with 301.  But he also threw four costly interceptions, included two bad ones in the final four minutes that sealed the fate of the home team. 

Final Score: Dolphins – 31, Chargers -24

It was the Chargers’ Salute to Service game and as you would expect, the Charger Girls wore special military themed uniforms for the event.  And because the Chargers play in San Diego, where the weather is always good, the Charger Girl uniforms were damn skimpy…uh, um…damn sexy.  See for yourself!










With a 4-6 record and three aforementioned AFC West teams with 7 wins, it appears that the Chargers playoff aspirations are at an end.  There’s just not enough games left in the season to improve in the standings.  But that’s okay…I still have the Charger Girls to justify the 120 mile trek down the 15 freeway.

So let’s begin this week’s coverage of the Charger Girls wearing special military themed uniforms with the Captains: Bridget, Teran, Marissa, and Delani.





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Chargers Run Over the Titans En Route to Victory

On a balmy autumn Sunday, Melvin Gordon rushed for 196 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Chargers in an outburst of scoring that proved to be too much for the visiting Tennessee Titans.  Charger quarterback Philip Rivers chipped in 275 passing yards and two touchdowns and a resilient Bolts defense added two defensive scores to top off the points spasm.

Final Score: San Diego Super Chargers – 43, Tennessee Tuxedos – 35

With the victory, the Chargers improved to 4-5 on the season and kept their thin playoff hopes alive.  Remember this was a team that was leading in the fourth quarter of three of the first four games, only to lose in a most tragic fashion.  The boys in blue could easily be 7-2 and among the division leaders, but alas…they are not.

So, let us turn our attention to the state of the Tennessee Titans.  Although their record suggests mediocrity, you can see positive things happening.  Second year quarterback Marcus Mariota is showing the tremendous potential that inspired the Titans to draft him second overall in last year’s draft.  He threw for 313 yards, three passing touchdowns and had one rushing touchdown.  But he also threw two costly interceptions, one a pick six to Charger defensive back Brandon Flowers.  However, you could see the promise in the young signal caller.

And the Titans have a good rushing attack with the resurgence of running back DeMarco Murray, the old Dallas cast off.  Even though the Chargers held him in check for most of the game, Murray is the second leading rusher in the NFL and I am not too ashamed to say that I am riding him to a fantasy football championship…but I digress.  Yes, good things are happening in Tennessee.

But enough football chit chat…bring on the Charger Girl photos. Well…here you go!











Last game, I was able to sneak a few posed photos of two of the Charger Girl lines at the Bud Light Power Party and this week I photographed the other two.  Here’s a few teaser images from this week’s shoot.




I’ll post the remainder on my personal blog on Friday.

Well, let’s begin this week’s coverage with the Captains: Bridget, Teran, Marissa, and Delani.





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Fourth Quarter Meltdown Averted As The Chargers Find A Way To Win

The Chargers have an annoying history of losing games they are leading in the fourth quarter.   Four times this season, the Chargers took a lead into the fourth quarter, only to lose three of them in a rather disappointing fashion.  Mistakes, lack of effort and poor execution have led to what can only be called as three epic meltdowns.  It’s not that the Chargers opponents played exceptionally well in coming back…they did enough to win, sure enough…but it was the way the Chargers played in the last few minutes, essentially giving those games away, that has caused so much disappointment and frustration.  The opposing teams didn’t win the game; the Chargers lost them…and lost them…and lost them.

And history has a way of repeating itself, at least in San Diego.  Before a nationally televised game, the Chargers dominated the defending Super Bowl Champions for 3 1/2 quarters, taking a 19 -3 lead into the fourth quarter.   On their first possession of the fourth quarter, the Broncos were penalized in their own end zone, giving the Chargers a safety and a seemingly insurmountable 21-3 lead considering how poorly the Broncos’ offense had played up to that point.

And then the tide turned.  With 8:18 minutes left on the clock, the Broncos scored a touchdown on a short pass to wide receiver Bennie Fowler to cut the lead to 11 points.  The sleeping giant had awoken and started moving the ball against Chargers defense.  The hometown fans breathed a sigh of relief when a touchdown pass from Siemian to C.J. Anderson was called back and a fumble two plays later was recovered by the Chargers with 3:43 left on the clock.  But the meltdown was only beginning.

Unable to get a first down or milk the clock, the Chargers punted the ball back to the Broncos with 3:03 left to go.  I tried to reassure my fellow seat mates that, surely, we would win the game, leading by 11 points with only three measly minutes left to kill…but I was on slippery ice.

The Broncos moved the ball down the field, taking a two and a half minutes to kick a field goal…and yet they were still 8 points down.  I mean the Chargers should be in good shape as the Broncos took almost the whole remaining time left to score one measly field goal and they were still down by a touchdown and two point conversion.  All we had to do was recover the onside kick and kill 30 seconds…something that should be rather easy to do…but nothing comes easy for the Chargers this season.

With 27 seconds left, the Broncos recovered the onside kick and Charger fans could sense another fourth quarter meltdown.  Even head coach Mike McCoy sensed the obvious and assumed the universal sign of despair by holding his head in his hands.  Given the past history of this year’s team, if the Broncos scored a touchdown, they would surely score the two point conversion to send the game into overtime and we would find a way to lose another game…badly.

But a funny thing happened…the stars aligned just right, world peace broke out and a Charger made a play.  On the last play of the game, a desperation heave by Trevor Siemian was knocked down by safety Dexter McCoil at the two yard line to preserve the victory for the Chargers.  The San Diego Chargers found a way to win.

Meltdown averted…just barely.

Final Score:  Gnarly Dudes – 21, Super Bowl Ringwraiths – 13

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Whew!  I need a break…so let’s take a look a this week’s lead off photos from Thursday Night Football!











Night games are always a challenge for me to shoot.  I have to use a flash, which decreases the number of photos I take and for each photo taken, I have to use a lower shutter speed and blah, blah, blah…what does this mean?  Nothing much…just…never mind.

Let’s begin our regular coverage of the Absolutely Fabulous San Diego Charger Girls with the Captains:  Marissa, Delani, Bridget, and Teran.





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Snatching Victory From The Jaws of Defeat in San Diego

San Diego, CA. (October 2, 2016).  The Saints came marching in and snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.  Yep…they sure did.  Looking to exploit a weak Saints defense, the Chargers took a 13 point lead deep into the fourth quarter, only to turn the ball over twice in their own territory.  The Saints, led by former Charger quarter back Drew Brees, scored two touchdowns to turn what should have been a humiliating defeat into an improbable victory.

Final Score:  Beignets – 35, Crispy Fish Tacos – 34

I heard an odd statistic on the drive home.  The Chargers are 1-2 this season while leading by 13 points in the fourth quarter while the rest of the NFL is 25-0 in similar games.  That’s quite an indictment against the Chargers, who cannot seem to finish games strongly and win.  This past Sunday was particularly disappointing in that the Saints were a team without a win, playing on a short week and reeling from a crushing loss to division rival Atlanta on Monday Night Football.

This was a winnable game…a game that the Chargers should have won easily.  But Melvin Gordon returned to his fumbling ways, putting the ball on the ground late in the fourth quarter and on the next possession, a fumble by Travis Benjamin with 4:50 left in the game, set up the dramatic come from behind win for the Saints.

So disappointing.  But Sunday wasn’t a total loss…if you see what I mean.










We begin this week’s coverage of the Charger Girls with the Line Captains: Marissa, Delani, Bridget, and Teran.





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