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Trailblazing cheerleading men ready to make Super Bowl history

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Excitement was building days before the National Football League’s Super Bowl LIII around two men who were set to take the field and make history in Atlanta on Sunday.

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The two trailblazers, however, are not the head coaches or quarterbacks of the Los Angeles Rams or New England Patriots.

Napoleon Jinnies and Quinton Peron are set to become the first male cheerleaders to perform at a Super Bowl.

“We are so happy to be here, the smile hasn’t left my face since we arrived,” Peron said in an interview with Reuters during Super Bowl Opening Night on Monday.

The 2018-19 season was the first for both Jinnies and Peron, who are also the league’s first male cheerleaders, performing for the Rams. For Jinnies, their groundbreaking achievement is a reflection of Los Angeles’ diversity.

“We have a lot of people in Los Angeles from different cultures and different backgrounds. I think it’s really important that everyone on the team reflect that, from our boys on the field to the people on the sideline and even our cheer team,” he said.

Peron noted that the two are not the only ones set to make history for the Rams, given that Sean McVay will be the youngest head coach in a Super Bowl, and Jared Goff could be one of the youngest quarterbacks to win a Super Bowl.

“As an organization this is exciting,” the Rancho Cucamonga, California native said.

Peron was 16 when he started dancing.

“I caught some flack. But if this is what you want to do, then do it because it’s your life. No one can live your life for you,” he said. “Dream your dream, live your truth and if there’s something out there that you want to do, do it. Go out there, attack it and get it.”

Jinnies, from Santa Barbara, California, started dancing 12 years ago.

“You always have to have thick skin no matter what you’re going for. You just need to go for it,” he said.

Writing and additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien; editing by Dan Grebler