The National Football League and NFL Players Association will support October's National Breast Cancer Awareness Month with its largest on-field presence and a national breast cancer screening-reminder and fund-raising campaign. In collaboration with the American Cancer Society, the initiative, called "A Crucial Catch: Annual Screening Saves Lives," encourages women 40 and older about the importance of having an annual mammogram.
Beginning on Oct. 3 and continuing throughout the month, NFL Breast Cancer Awareness games will feature:
» Game balls with pink ribbon decals used for every down
» Players wearing pink cleats, wristbands, gloves, chin straps, sideline caps, helmet decals, eye shield decals, captains' patches, sideline towels and quarterback towels
» Pink coins used for the coin toss
» Pink sideline caps for coaches and sideline personnel and pink ribbon pins for coaches and team executives
» Officials wearing caps with pink ribbons, pink wristbands and pins and using pink whistles
» On-field pink ribbon stencils and A Crucial Catch wall banners
» Pink goal-post padding in end zones
» A Crucial Catch pink glow necklaces for all fans attending the Bears-Giants game on Oct. 3
Game-worn pink merchandise and footballs will be autographed postgame and auctioned at NFL Auction. Unique NFL experiences such as a VIP trip to Super Bowl XLV and a 2011 Pro Bowl Spa Retreat Experience in Hawaii also will be up for auction. All NFL Auction proceeds during the month of October will benefit the American Cancer Society and team charities. Special pink merchandise will be available at www.NFLShop.com, in stadium retail stores, at Dick's, Hatworld and Lids, with a portion of proceeds going to breast cancer charities.
Two national landmarks, the Empire State Building in New York City and Niagara Falls near Buffalo, N.Y., will be illuminated pink in early October to commemorate the NFL, its teams' and its players' efforts to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In honor of the NFL's A Crucial Catch campaign, the Empire State Building will be lit pink on Sunday, Oct. 3, the evening of the Chicago Bears-New York Giants game on NBC (8:30 PM ET). The Buffalo Bills and The Niagara Falls Illumination Board are working together to light the Falls pink on Friday, Oct. 1, in honor of the Billieve Breast Cancer Awareness program.
As national spokespeople for A Crucial Catch, both Tanya Snyder, wife of Redskins owner Dan Snyder, and Susie Spanos, wife of Chargers president Dean Spanos, are working on a cause that hits close to home.
For Mrs. Snyder, a longtime breast cancer fund-raiser, the connection to breast cancer is a personal one.
"Breast cancer affects 1 in 8 American women, and I was one of them a few years ago," she said. "I am proud to work with the league and the Redskins to remind fans about the importance of annual screenings."
Mrs. Spanos is a big advocate for early detection, having caught early-stage cancer during a routine exam. She had the cancer removed and to this day insists on getting checked annually.
"I'm an example of when early detection is successful," she said. "I feel strongly that women need to be their own health advocate, and if there is anything to say, women need to speak up."
Grammy Award-winning singer Kelly Rowland, an advocate for early detection, is lending her time and voice to this cause. Rowland will sing the national anthem at the Bears-Giants game on Sunday, Oct. 3, and perform during halftime at the New England Patriots-Miami Dolphins game the following night. Rowland also filmed a public-service announcement raising awareness for A Crucial Catch which can be seen at www.NFL.com/pink and will be played on jumbotrons in NFL stadiums. As Rowland sings the national anthem at the New Meadowlands Stadium prior to the Bears-Giants game, she will be accompanied by 125 breast cancer survivors from ACS and Hackensack University Medical Center who will form the shape of a ribbon at the 50-yard line. At that moment, the stadium will glow pink with the help of the video boards as well as the tens of thousands of fans wearing pink glow necklaces in-stadium.
From cleats to gloves, towels to caps, NFL partners including Nike, Reebok, adidas, Gatorade, Wilson, Under Armour, Cutters Gloves, McArthur Towel and Sports and Longaberger are creating pink merchandise for Breast Cancer Awareness games. Many NFL licensees also will create special pink product, with a portion of proceeds benefiting breast cancer charities. In addition to creating pink sideline towels for players, Gatorade sideline carts will feature pink ribbon decals during October. Head & Shoulders is producing a Breast Cancer Awareness ad with Pittsburgh Steelers star Troy Polamalu in the P&G Breast Cancer Awareness Brand Saver. Trading-card companies Panini and Topps will produce special pink trading cards featuring facts on breast cancer; they will be available, free of charge with purchase, at stadium retail stores.
This year, the NFL and ACS have extended A Crucial Catch to the youth level. Andy Reid, head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, sent a note to every high school football coach across the country offering suggestions and ideas for how schools and teams can "go pink" along with the NFL and ACS to show support for the cause. Coach Reid's mother-in-law, Virginia Garrett, passed away from breast cancer, and his late mother, Elizabeth, was a radiologist who treated many breast cancer patients.
Fans may visit www.NFL.com/pink to learn more about the campaign, the high school football initiative as well as important breast cancer-detection information, prevention tips and how to participate in the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk. NFL Players will be raising money for breast cancer awareness with collective and individual efforts across the country. Through One Team for the Cure and its foundations, players will host a variety of events and fundraisers in their team cities and home communities. Many teams will extend the national platform with local efforts, including the distribution of 650,000 pink ribbons and education cards facilitated by volunteers from Zeta Tau Alpha (ZTA) Fraternity for women. Teams will designate home games in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and plan special in-stadium or pregame events with local organizations.