Wednesday, August 20, 2008
By Peter Mucha
What a whirlwind ride for Janelle Stangl.
The topper is today, when the September issue of Maxim - the one with tennis' Anna Kournikova on the cover - officially hits newsstands, and inside, there's Stangl, touted as one of the NFL's four "most gorgeous" cheerleaders.
Not bad for an Eagles rookie.
Less than four months ago, Stangl, 21, who hails from Bethlehem, Pa., was a junior studying dance at the University of Arts.
Then she got picked to join the Eagles cheerleading squad.
Soon, it was off to Punta Cana for annual calendar shoot - which led to her being chosen to be August 2009.
Then Maxim called the Eagles and requested the 5-foot-2, blue-eyed blonde Stangl for its 2008 NFL guide, with "the best match-ups, the craziest predictions" and "the 2008 All-Maxim Team."
That roster of players includes ex-Eagle Al Harris, the New York Giants' Brandon Jacobs and the Dallas Cowboys' Flozell Adams - but no Donovan McNabb or Brian Westbrook.
Stangl's the only Eagle mentioned. The other three members of Maxim's "Pom Squad" are from the Washington Redskins, the Miami Dolphins and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
National recognition isn't new for the sideline squad. In February, Janipher Choi represented the Eagles in Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Issue.
Maxim sent a classy chauffeured car to drive Stangl from Bethlehem to a Manhattan studio for the shoot.
She was shown a picture and asked to replicate a pose, using an Eagles flag - in size somewhere between a blanket and a towel, she said.
She was excited and nervous, because it was only her second professional photo shoot ever, the calendar being the first.
"It was very well organized," she said. "I was only there a few hours."
Last week during practice, Stangl was surprised by who was texting - her mom. She'd found an early copy at a bookstore, and was quite excited.
The cheerleader said seeing the actual picture in a national magazine "was a little bit of shock." But the jazz dance major was pleased. "I'm very critical of myself, but I like the picture. It's flattering."
Maxim actually refrained from picking one of the photos that showed more skin, to her relief, she said.
Not that she has strong reservations.
In the Eagles "eco-sexy" calendar photo, only her arm and hand cover her upper torso.
"I'm proud of my body and I feel like the shot was completely tasteful," she said.
Her suit, designed by Aaron Chang, was made of polyester fibers from recycled plastic soda bottles.
She was also bitten by bugs during the shoot, and suffered "the worst itching I've ever felt," she told Maxim.
Perhaps her favorite moment so far as a cheerleader, though, came during Thursday's game against Carolina at Lincoln Financial Field.
The skies opened up, and lightning forced the players, coaches and cheerleaders off the field - and sent many fans scurrying to their vehicles.
But after toweling off, the cheerleaders went back out - to applause from some appreciative fans.
The squad members "really are dedicated fans, just like them," she said. "... I think it meant a lot to them."
Some spectators who'd headed for the exits decided to turn around and stay.
For the cheerleaders or because the rain was letting up?
"Maybe a little bit of both," she said.
Clearly, Stangl is an upbeat sort, as is especially evident on her recent video blog that's on the Eagles website.
"I'm a really easy-going person," she said. "Nothing really fazes me. Life is too short."