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'NFL Total Wellness' program launched to improve player health

NEW YORK -- The NFL took a big step today toward improving the health of former, current, and future players.

Commissioner Roger Goodell communicated in a letter to more than 11,000 current and former players that their health and wellness is paramount. To that end, the league is launching a "comprehensive" program called "NFL Total Wellness" to serve those goals.

With an assist from former Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher and NFL executives Robert Gulliver and Troy Vincent, the goal is to help foster positive health-related decisions and promote a system of support when it comes to behavioral and mental health issues.

The league is providing a new service called "NFL Life Line," which is free, independent and confidential -- run by a third-party -- for all members of the NFL's family to use. That includes players, coaches, staff, and family members.

"Our initiative here is an important one because we recognize that we have to do more for our players," Goodell told a meeting room of those involved with creating and consulting on the initiative. "The time has come to expect more for players. Their families need more resources. We are going to provide that. You know our commitment."

Problems can be complex and wide-ranging for both current and former players. The idea was to have an all-encompassing way to help.

"As we have come to understand these complex problems," Goodell said, "we have developed programs over the past several years to try to help our players to deal with it."

Follow Ian Rapoport on Twitter @RapSheet

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