Mike Ditka event kicks off NFL Homecoming to honor legends

NFL HOMECOMING CELEBRATES LEGENDS AND FANS

The National Football League today is launching its inaugural Homecoming platform to highlight the accomplishments and contributions of NFL greats and celebrate dedicated fans.

During NFL Homecoming (Weeks 14, 15 and 16), NFL Legends will return to stadiums across the country to be honored by their teams and will reconnect with former teammates, club personnel and fans. The league will celebrate these reunions through in-game presentations, digital and social media and special events. There will be NFL Homecoming stencils on-field and in-stadium banners at certain games.

Examples of how teams are celebrating Homecoming include:

  • On Thursday, the Denver Broncos will host an event with NFL Network to honor Hall of Famers John Elway and Gary Zimmerman in advance of their Thursday Night Football game against the San Diego Chargers. That night, Broncos Ring of Famers Terrell Davis, Randy Gradishar, Karl Mecklenburg, Haven Moses, Tom Nalen, Billy Thompson, Jim Turner and Louis Wright will participate in pregame ceremonies including on-field recognition as honorary captains for the coin toss.
  • On Dec. 16, nearly 15 former Detroit Lions will be in attendance at the team's Monday Night Football matchup with the Baltimore Ravens including Al "Bubba" Baker, Desmond Howard and Wally Triplett, who will be recognized in-game with features about their accomplishments after football, and Larry Lee, whose Detroit-based band will perform during pregame and halftime. The club also will host the first ever "One Pride Blue Out," which will encourage fans to wear blue to the game. All of these elements are part of the Lions' "One Detroit, One Pride" campaign to unify the city behind the team.

In addition, several clubs will thank fans for their support throughout the season that makes their stadium feel just like home, including the Cleveland Browns, who will culminate their Best Fans Week at their Dec. 15 game against the Chicago Bears. Cleveland will recognize season-ticket members who have held ticket accounts since the team's inception in 1946 and provide exclusive rewards to more than 12,000 fans attending the game, highlighted by a trip to New York City to announce a Browns pick at the 2014 NFL Draft.

Earlier this season, the NFL and United Way announced a nationwide vote to identify the most popular NFL-United Way public service ads (PSA) of the past 40 years. Working with USA TODAY Sports Media Group to host the contest, thousands of fans voted on the top 40 ads and the winner will be announced during a Homecoming game on Dec. 15. In addition, stars featured in some of the top 40 PSAs will return to stadiums for Homecoming games as honorary captains including Pro Football Hall of Famers Franco Harris and Roger Staubach, as well as former Philadelphia Eagles player Ron Jaworski and Tampa Bay Buccaneers player Derrick Brooks.

Fans may visit nfl.com/homecoming to view exclusive NFL Films content on Legends returning home and interviews with former players about their favorite Homecoming memories. A feature on former Washington Redskins player LaVar Arrington highlights his current work as a Heads Up Football ambassador and NFL Legends community ambassador as well as his induction into the Washington Redskins Ring of Honor this past November. Former Jacksonville Jaguars player Mark Brunell is featured in a video about his current roles as a high school coach in Jacksonville and NFL Legends community ambassador that culminates with his return to Jacksonville for the Ring of Honor induction on Dec. 15. In addition, the league is hosting its first-ever NFL Legends Networking Event in New York City on Sunday, Dec. 15 bringing together NFL greats from around the region to reconnect and network.

NFL Homecoming builds off the variety of methods already in place to celebrate former NFL players and connect them with each other, their former teams and the NFL. In July, the NFL launched NFL Legends, a multi-faceted program developed by NFL Player Engagement and the league's Marketing Department. The Legends develop, foster and manage national and local alumni relations to deepen the relationship and communication between the league office, teams and former players. They also participate in the league's calendar events and fan platforms as additional ways to remain connected to the game.

The Legends Program is built on a peer-to-peer model used in other NFL Player Engagement programs, including the NFL Ambassadors program and the Transition Coaches program, fostering deeper relationships between generations of NFL players. For more information about NFL Player Engagement, visit http://www.nflplayerengagement.com.

-- NFL Communications

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