BALTIMORE - A Baltimore Ravens veteran cheerleader is being benched from heading to Super Bowl XLVII for what she says is being "too fat."
Courtney Lenz, 23, has been a Ravens cheerleader for five seasons and did not receive an invitation to cheer her team on this Sunday.
The reason? According to Lenz, it's because she gained 2 pounds and was being penalized for her weight gain.
Fans have rallied in defense of Lenz and have started an online petition to allow her to cheer at the big game.
"I wouldn't even have reached out and let fans know if I didn't think it was clearly wrong," said Lenz . "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."
Lenz started cheering for the Ravens when she was a freshman in college and has been a part of the squad for five years. When she finished school she started a marketing job and found it difficult to continue with the schedule leading to her announcement of retirement in early January, according to ABC News.
Despite her announcement, Lenz believes that she should be allowed to cheer at the Super Bowl with her team because she has put five years of her life into it.
"People want to burn their jerseys and don't want to support the [Baltimore] Ravens anymore," one commenter said after the Ravens chose not to invite 23-year-old Courtney Lenz to the Super Bowl, according to ABC News.
The NFL had a different take on the controversy, telling ABC News that you are not ‘entitled' to cheer at the super bowl. Only 32 cheerleaders out of the 60-member squad were invited to the game Sunday, and Lenz simply did not make the cut along with 27 other girls.
"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.
Lenz has apparently accepted the hard fact that she will not be attending.
"Originally I would have loved to go to the Super Bowl, but at this point it looks like it's not going to happen," she concluded to ABC News. "I received an email on Sunday saying I need to turn in my uniform. I can't say I didn't expect it…"
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