NFL celebrates 40-year partnership with United Way charity

NFL and Teams Participate in Annual NFL-United Way Hometown Huddle Day of Service NFL and United Way Team With USA TODAY Sports Media Group

For Vote on Favorite PSAs of Past 40 Years Using USA TODAY's Ad Meter

The 2013 NFL season marks the 40th anniversary of the NFL-United Way partnership. In recognition of this milestone, the NFL and United Way are teaming with USA TODAY SPORTS Media Group to host a nationwide vote to identify the best NFL-United Way public service ads of the past 40 years.

Since the partnership's inception in 1973, more than 800 NFL players, coaches and club executives have appeared in NFL-United Way ads. The NFL's 40-year relationship with United Way is the longest-running partnership between a sports league and nonprofit organization.

Powered by USA TODAY Ad Meter, the top 40 ads will be revealed by the decade over a four-week period. Fans can rate each ad on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the best) at nflunitedway40.usatoday.com. Voting begins tomorrow, coinciding with the 15th annual NFL-United Way Hometown Huddle league-wide day of service, and concludes on November 19. The top 10 will be featured on NFL.com and the winner announced on December 15.

"We are proud of the NFL's 40-year association with United Way," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. "The memorable NFL-United Way messages have highlighted the importance of serving our communities through the leadership of our players and clubs. This year's campaign features current and former NFL players encouraging young people to continue to stay fit, maintain healthy lifestyles and contribute to their communities."

Commissioner Goodell will join Pro Football Hall of Famer Franco Harris and former Giants player Amani Toomer Tuesday to kick off the 40th anniversary festivities by participating in the 15th annual NFL-United Way Hometown Huddle league-wide day of service. They will attend the NFL office's Hometown Huddle event in New York. Both Harris and Toomer participated in NFL-United Way PSAs. Harris appeared in the first year of the campaign and Toomer was featured in 2003.

"USA TODAY Sports is ecstatic to expand our relationship with the NFL and United Way and be a part of their 40th Anniversary Celebration. We are also excited to activate our Ad Meter platform so fans can vote on the greatest NFL-United Way PSAs from the past 40 years," said Merrill Squires, USA TODAY Sports Media Group senior vice president of sports marketing and partnerships.

From building fitness zones and playgrounds to hosting youth football clinics, Hometown Huddle events encourage kids to stay active for 60 minutes a day as part of NFL PLAY 60, the league's youth health and wellness campaign. The NFL-United Way partnership connects NFL PLAY 60 with United Way's 2018 goal to get 1.9 million more young people healthy and active.

"For 40 years, the NFL and United Way have strived to create opportunity for our youth to reach their full potential," said Stacey D. Stewart, U.S. President of United Way Worldwide. "Whether it's encouraging young people to get active or recruiting NFL fans as tutors, NFL players are making a difference in their communities. We are grateful for their efforts and leadership, and look forward to another 40 years of working together."

NFL coaches, players, and executives from across the league, along with NFL employees, will participate in local Hometown Huddle events.

Since 2011, NFL players have joined United Way TEAM NFL, a special volunteer group committed to helping United Way recruit one million volunteer readers, tutors and mentors. Comprised of college-educated, civic-minded NFL players from teams across the league, United Way TEAM NFL ambassadors participate in community events, each with the goal of recruiting 3,000 volunteers.

United Way TEAM NFL members, including Cleveland Browns linebacker Jabaal Sheard, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson, Oakland Raiders fullback Marcel Reece, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward and Washington Redskins wide receiver Joshua Morgan, will participate in their team's Hometown Huddle event.

Below is a snapshot of how teams are working with United Way on Hometown Huddle events.

To learn more about NFL-United Way partnership visit: www.unitedway.org/team-nfl.

TEAM: HOMETOWN HUDDLE ACTIVITIES

  • Arizona Cardinals: Cardinals' players, wives, Big Red and cheerleaders will help schoolchildren at Balsz Elementary School build a mural on their front facing fence for Arizona's Hometown Huddle event. Using put-in-cups, the mural will provide a unique sign that will add color and be a fun way to identity the school. Mural artist Robert Miley, from releasethefear.org, will help create and fill in a mural on the primary wall of the school. The mural will be created and painted by Balsz students, as well as Cardinals players, wives, cheerleaders, and Big Red. The event will also include a PLAY 60 camp.
  • Atlanta Falcons: In celebration of the Falcons annual Hometown Huddle event, the entire 53-man roster and practice squad, in addition to Falcons' cheerleaders and members of the Falcons Women's Association, will make surprise appearances at 13 locations in the metro Atlanta area. Six stops will include United Way-affiliated schools where the players and cheerleaders will deliver new sports equipment and promote physical fitness as part of the NFL's PLAY 60 initiative. Additional stops will be made at Project Open Hand, Ronald McDonald House, children's hospitals, a local McDonalds and a local Publix Super Market. Falcons Women's Association will prepare and serve lunch to the homeless at Crossroads Community Ministries.
  • Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens hosted their Hometown Huddle event at M&T Bank Stadium on Oct. 15. RavensChykie Brown, Morgan Cox, Art Jones, Jacoby Jones, Bernard Pierce, Torrey Smith, Justin Tucker and Tyrod Taylor served as team captains for students from Curtis Bay Elementary School competing in the second annual Ravens TEAM Challenge. Under the guidance of Playworks Baltimore, players joined students as they tested their physical endurance and ability to work as a team. One group was declared TEAM Challenge champions, based upon total points accumulated. The Ravens TEAM Challenge integrates educational programming and the NFL's PLAY 60 physical activities while focusing on three values: fitness, sportsmanship and academics.
  • Buffalo Bills: At the 2013 Hometown Huddle event, on Oct. 15, the Bills partnered with the American Dairy Association and Dairy Council on a cafeteria refurbishment at the Frederick Law Olmstead BPS School Number 156 as a part of the Fuel Up To Play 60 program. Toyota Rookie Club members, including Robert Woods, Kiko Alonso, Marquise Goodwin, Chris Gragg, Johnny Adams, Ronnie Wingo and Ty Powell, helped dedicate the new cafeteria and student lounge. They spoke to the students about the importance of eating healthy foods and getting 60 minutes of physical activity each day.
  • Carolina Panthers: The Panthers hosted a PLAY 60 Camp for more than 450 children at Billingsville Elementary School, a Title 1 School serving children in grades Pre-K -5, in Charlotte, N.C. on Oct. 15. The official team mascot, Sir Purr, and TopCats cheerleaders made appearances during the day's events and Panthers players ran the PLAY 60 stations with the help of United Way volunteers. The team's official game day DJ also joined in on the fun to provide some upbeat PLAY 60 music.
  • Chicago Bears: On Oct. 15, the Bears Hometown Huddle took place at Round Lake High School. With the help of United Way of Lake County, the Bears and Bears Care had the unique opportunity to impact the lives of Round Lake youth by improving the high school's existing weight training and conditioning room and expanding the space to include a new fitness area for the students. The space, which is utilized by 2,000 students, will be a reminder of the overall importance of health and fitness, reiterating the NFL's PLAY 60 initiative. The Bears 2013 Rookie Class and Round Lake High School students joined together to finish the painting, put the final pieces of equipment in place and unveil the new, improved exercise space for students.
  • Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals are excited to be a part of the Cincinnati Recreation Commission's (CRC) "vision" of Cincinnati's first state-of-art, inclusive and accessible recreation complex. The LeBlond Regional RecPlex will utilize the principles of universal design to offer the best experiences for individuals and families with or without disabilities. The new indoor/outdoor RecPlex will provide inclusive recreation activities, while promoting healthy lifestyles and fitness. Current Bengals players, The Marvin Lewis Community Fund, and volunteers, will be an integral part of this project, heading up the construction of the Inclusive Playground. This inclusive playground will take accessibility to the max -- encouraging children and adults of all abilities to enjoy playtime together. The Bengals also be constructing a community garden for families to grow fresh fruit and vegetables, promoting a healthier lifestyle. Additionally, the Bengals will beautify the outdoor space with extensive landscaping, native trees, shrubs, flowers and adding benches and picnic table seating areas for families.
  • Cleveland Browns: The Browns will celebrate the installation of the 15th play space created through the Browns and United Way collaboration through the Hometown Huddle project. A local elementary school has been selected for the project and 150 volunteers will unite to transform their outdoor space. The current play area resembles a former parking lot with no outdoor structures for the kids to play on, and the Hometown Huddle project will make an immediate positive impact. The transformation will include the installation of a new play unit including a wave slide, double slide, clover climber, cargo net climber, trapeze rings and three decks while picnic tables, benches and an outdoor basketball court will be created. Other projects include painting games and activities on the ground surface and installing privacy panels on the fence surrounding the space.
  • Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys will celebrate Hometown Huddle by hosting a PLAY 60 Junior Training Camp at Anderson Elementary School in Plano, Texas, on Oct. 22. Players, mascot Rowdy and volunteers from United Way of Metropolitan Dallas will assist in running the youth through a variety of exciting football drills. Players will speak to the students about the importance of being active and making positive life choices, while a representative from Fuel Up to PLAY 60 will be on hand to encourage healthy eating. Gene and Jerry Jones Family Charities will present $2,500 grants to both the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas and the United Way of Tarrant County as part of the event.

Denver Broncos The Broncos celebrated their annual Hometown Huddle at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Oct. 1. The Broncos invited 350 children from all 15 Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver to share in the day's events. With the help of Playworks, children participated in on field fitness activities supporting the NFL's PLAY 60 initiative. United Way and Broncos employees volunteered and players participates as 'team leaders' for each of the 15 clubs.

  • Detroit Lions: On Oct. 15, the Detroit Lions wrapped up its Meet Up & Eat Up with the Lions program at Eastern Market with former Lions running back Barry Sanders and Detroit Public Schools students from Burton International Academy and Detroit Lions Academy. In partnership with United Way for Southeastern Michigan, Fair Food Network, Detroit Eastern Market, Playworks, Wayne State University School of Medicine and Gleaners Community Food Bank, this weekly program, which started September 10 with an appearance from former Lions tackle and Pro Bowler Lomas Brown, aimed to continue efforts to fight against food insecurity in Detroit. Building upon the Detroit Lions Living for the City's Lunch with the Lions event which debuted in 2012, Meet Up & Eat Up with the Lions educated Detroit Public Schools students about eating fresh fruits and vegetables, their accessibility within the city, as well as the importance of active play. The program included a snack preparation demonstration from Ford Field Executive Chef Joe Nader, a shopping trip to Eastern Market's Tuesday Market, information about food assistance programs promoting eating fresh produce, PLAY 60 activities led by Playworks and appearances from the Detroit Lions mascot and alumni.
  • Green Bay Packers: The Packers and United Way will work together to install playground equipment at Hoover Park, part of the Appleton Parks and Recreation. Packers' players will work alongside United Way volunteers to install a playground structure that motivates youth to get out and exercise.
  • Houston Texans: The Texans Hometown Huddle event was held at The Health Museum on Oct. 15. Youth from the Houston Texans YMCA and the Boys & Girls Clubs visited interactive exhibits that focused on healthy lifestyles, the functions of the body, and how to live a healthy life. In addition, children were treated to a private class called, "The Beat Goes On," which is specifically about the human heart. Children had the opportunity to team up with the cheerleaders, Toro, and the entire Texans rookie class, including Deandre Hopkins and DJ Swearinger. With the help of United Way volunteers, children also were treated to lunch, giveaways from the Texans and the Health Museum.
  • Indianapolis Colts: On Oct. 29, the Colts will unveil a newly renovated fitness room at the Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center, a United Way agency, for their Hometown Huddle event. Colts players will take part in a ribbon cutting ceremony before joining several youth fitness activities within the Colts-themed fitness zone. The renovation, which was made possible by the Colts, Indiana Wesleyan University and NFL Foundation, includes new paint, flooring, mirrors, fitness stations and more. This is the fifth consecutive year the Colts have teamed up with United Way of Central Indiana to renovate a fitness zone as a part of their Hometown Huddle event.
  • Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars and United Way of Northeast Florida will celebrate Hometown Huddle with a Youth Fitness Clinic on Nov. 12. The clinic will include 1,500 children and take place at One Everbank Field focusing on teaching fitness and nutrition. Jaguars' staff, players and members of the ROAR will participate and facilitate activities.
  • Kansas City Chiefs: In celebration of Hometown Huddle, the Chiefs and TeamSmile will host the eighth annual "Kansas City Oral Health Care Day" at Arrowhead Stadium. As a result, 300 local youth will receive vital complementary dental services, the value of which will exceed $250,000. Chiefs' players, cheerleaders, KC Wolf and staff will join with the United Way of Greater Kansas City and TeamSmile volunteers to provide these dental health screenings and procedures for local elementary school students. The children will also have the opportunity to participate in several PLAY 60 themed activity stations administered by United Way staff and partners as a way of reinforcing the importance of being healthy year round.
  • Miami Dolphins: On Oct. 24, the Miami Dolphins will host 60 children from United Way of Miami Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties at Dave & Busters. Children will play interactive games and receive a presentation on PLAY 60 and healthy eating from Dolphins Players and Miami Dolphins Women's Organization members.
  • Minnesota Vikings: On Oct. 22, the Vikings and United Way, partnering with YMCA Beacons program at Sheridan Arts Magnet School, will unveil a newly designed and built Vikings Fitness Zone. Players, including Jerome Simpson, Zach Line, Greg Childs, Travis Bond, Larry Dean, Rhett Ellison, Robert Steeples, Michael Mauti and Adam Thielen, along with Vikings alumni, cheerleaders, Viktor the Viking and staff will help install the Vikings themed traveling fitness zone. In addition to an assembly to kick off the day's events, there will be various fitness stations to get student active. The Fitness Zone and event will promote PLAY 60 and the importance of a healthy lifestyle.
  • New England Patriots: On Oct. 15, the Patriots hosted their annual Hometown Huddle event at Gillette Stadium. In partnership with the United Way, Stop and Shop and the New England Dairy Council, the Patriots showcased a "Healthy Kids Summit" for 300 children on the field. Coinciding with the NFL PLAY 60 initiative, the day kicked off with a panel discussion about the importance of a healthy diet and exercise, led by health experts, Patriots players and staff. Following the panel, more than a dozen current players, cheerleaders and Pat Patriot led participants through a variety of exercises and football skill stations.
  • New Orleans Saints: The Saints will create and enhance two areas of the Belle Chasse YMCA in Belle Chasse, La. One area will be transformed into a Youth Fitness Zone complete with seven youth-sized, Saints-branded hydraulic fitness machines, water rowers, aerodynamic bikes, and other fitness equipment such as dumbbells, weighted hula-hoops, stability balls, yoga mats and jumping ropes. The second room will be a fitness-inspired video gaming/creative arts room. One side of the room will be enhanced with art-related supplies and décor with a full wall designed as a chalkboard, while the other side would require physical movement by the youth in order to operate video games. Games will be played on new Wii and XBox Kinect gaming consoles and shown on a brand new 65 inch plasma television. The room will also feature a poly-pong table. Both rooms will be revitalized with Saints décor and furnishings. Saints players, Saintsations, and staff will be in attendance to help engage the youth in their new fitness zones and teach them how to use the equipment. Kids will also enjoy taking part in Saints Junior Training Camp drills and team mascots will be present as well.
  • New York Giants: The Giants installed a Giants-themed Youth Fitness Zone at Tenafly Middle School on Oct. 15. The event is part of the NFL-United Way's Hometown Huddle league-wide day of service, youth health and fitness awareness initiative. The fitness zone had multiple pieces of fitness equipment -- including squat press, shoulder press, abdominal crunch machines to name a few -- and a refurbished basketball court, which will be accessible to all students. Giants' players were on hand to assist in painting the room and to help put the finishing touches on the new Youth Fitness Zone.
  • New York Jets: The Jets Hometown Huddle will consist of a playground build at Morris County Park. Jets players, including Quinton Coples and the 2013 Rookie Class, staff and United Way volunteers will help break ground on an adaptive playground, serving children with disabilities so they can play throughout the site with their able bodied peers. This fitness zone allows for an inclusive environment where all kids can improve their physical fitness in a fun and safe environment.
  • Oakland Raiders: The Raiders will hold their Hometown Huddle event at Westlake Middle School in Oakland. In an effort to promote active and healthy living among Westlake Middle School students, the Raiders will give a message about PLAY 60 and the importance of both sound body and mind. Members of the United Way of the Bay Area and the Raiders will lead warm up exercises for 130 students and conduct a series of engaging, fun exercises. The emphasis will be on making exercise and healthy lifestyle a lifetime focus. Students will be coached by Raiders players and at the close of the event, each student will receive a tote bag full of school supplies and footballs, courtesy of the Raiders.
  • Philadelphia Eagles: On Oct. 21, the Eagles and United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey will dedicate a new youth fitness zone to General Louis Wagner Middle School as part of their Hometown Huddle event. The new fitness room will be outfitted with a new rubber floor, weight training equipment and interactive fitness games, allowing children to have fun while exercising. Demeco Ryans, the Eagles/United Way representative will be on-site along with the Eagles mascot, Swoop and cheerleaders to unveil the new space. By providing children with a safe place to exercise, United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey and the Eagles hope to help children excel in school, setting them on the path to success.
  • Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers will partner with the United Way of Allegheny County for their 2013 Hometown Huddle Event. The Steelers will host a PLAY 60 assembly at Pittsburgh King K-8 which coincides with the United Way's FitUnited campaign of improving the health of our children. Cam Heyward, the Steelers United Way Spokesperson and the 2013 Steelers Rookie Club will help the students participate in fitness stations.
  • San Diego Chargers: On Oct. 22 the Chargers will team up with Rady Children's Hospital for their annual Kids News Day. Beginning at 8 a.m., 10 Chargers players and six Charger girls will be doing all they can to entice folks to purchase the special edition Kids News Day newspaper for $1 -- all proceeds benefiting Rady Children's Hospital -- a major partner of the Chargers. The players and Charger Girls will take posts on all the corners at the major intersection of Friars Road and Frazee Street in San Diego and work to part motorists from their cash. This Kids News Day partnership is a 15-plus year tradition for the team.
  • San Francisco 49ers: On Oct. 7, as part of the NFL's Hometown Huddle program with the United Way and the NFL's PLAY 60 Campaign, the 49ers collaborated with UnitedHealthcare to construct an innovative outdoor fitness zone for the students at August Boeger Middle School in San Jose. The outdoor fitness zone will allow for up to 28 people to exercise at once and will provide a venue to inspire the students to become physically fit while also enhancing the outdoor landscaping at the school. The fitness zone also features green technology that requires no electricity and no scheduled maintenance.
  • Seattle Seahawks: On Oct. 29, the Seahawks and United Way of King County will install a Fit-Trail outdoor exercise system on the Ryther campus, a local behavioral health services and treatment facility for youth and their families facing complex issues. Following the installation, Seahawks players, members of the Sea Gals and Blitz will host a PLAY 60 event showcasing the new equipment with tips to lead a healthy and active life.
  • St. Louis Rams: The Rams Hometown Huddle event, "Gameday at the Dome" took place Oct. 15 at Rams Park, the team's practice facility. More than 100 children from 10 United Way agencies participated in a day of fun and fitness with a game day atmosphere. Children had the chance to do fun physical activities, try on football equipment, tour the locker room, make healthy snacks with the Rams team nutritionist and learn from Rams trainers and strength coaches. There was also a Q & A with players and opportunities to take photos with cheerleaders and receive autographs. Each child received a healthy snack and goodie bag. Rams players, front office staff, United Way volunteers, Rams Cheerleaders, and the Rams mascot, Rampage, took part in the day's events.
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Buccaneers are celebrating their Hometown Huddle event by implementing an essay contest about how deserving elementary schools could use $1,000 grant to improve their school. On Oct. 29, Buccaneers players, cheerleaders and staff will join United Way volunteers and deploy to the five winning schools to implement the improvement projects.
  • Tennessee Titans: United Way of Metropolitan Nashville is this year's Titans Hometown Huddle partner, and the event will be held at the Martha O'Bryan Center. United Way, along with the entire rookie class of Tennessee Titans players, Titans cheerleaders and mascot T-Rac will be showing students at Martha O'Bryan Center, a United Way Family Resource Center, how to make healthy snacks and other recipes that they can duplicate at home. The children will learn the importance of eating healthy and living an active lifestyle. In addition, the importance of NFL PLAY 60 will be incorporated into the event by stressing how beneficial it is to get 60 minutes of active play every single day. Several exercise stations will be set up and supervised by the players encouraging the kids to stay active. Due to the Titans bye week schedule, the year's Hometown Huddle event will be held Oct. 29.
  • Washington Redskins: The Redskins will team up with United Way National Capital Area to celebrate Hometown Huddle at a local elementary school where players will lead two PLAY 60 events, as well as speak to more than 500 students on the importance of living healthy lifestyles and staying active. This year's program will feature students who have excelled in the school's Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) program, which is used to recognize positive behavior and enhance the climate and culture in the school.

-Unless otherwise indicated, the events listed above will take place on Oct. 22.*

--NFL Communications

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