,Every year October brings a flood of pink to our television screens and media outlets for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Having a few friends who are battling the disease right now and being a bit of a skeptic myself, I have often wondered whether wearing pink really makes any difference, and how we can better identify pinkwashing from true fundraising efforts. As a huge football fan, a couple of years ago I questioned the NFL too with their pink rally towels, cleats, and footballs. That is when I learned about the impact that the NFL's efforts have made towards breast cancer awareness and fundraising.
Over the past five years the National Football League has made this a huge priority, and has raised approximately $4.5 million for the American Cancer Society to date. This year, the NFL and the NFL Players Association will support National Breast Cancer Awareness Month with their initiative called "A Crucial Catch: Annual Screening Saves Lives," which reminds women 40 and older about the importance of having an annual mammogram. Funds raised through A Crucial Catch support the American Cancer Society's Community Health Advocates implementing National Grants for Empowerment (CHANGE) program, which provides outreach and breast cancer screenings to women who need them.
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To mark the fifth anniversary of the campaign, this year will highlight inspiring stories of survivors who have been impacted by the A Crucial Catch campaign. Tina, a Jets fan and mother of three, did a self-exam after watching a 2011 Jets game, which led to an early and life-saving discovery of breast cancer.
And that is really why efforts such as this one matter. If seeing a player wearing pink reminds even one woman to do a self exam or to make an appointment for her mammogram, then all this really does make a difference. If the NFL's fundraising efforts can help an under-insured woman receive treatment, then it really does matter.
Beginning this week, players, coaches, and cheerleaders will be wearing and using pink merchandise, which will be autographed post-game and auctioned at NFL Auction (www.nfl.com/auction). All net proceeds from the sale of Breast Cancer Awareness items on NFL Auction will benefit the American Cancer Society.
In addition, several NFL partners are creating pink merchandise for Breast Cancer Awareness games and by selling pink merchandise in stadium retail stores and online, with a portion of proceeds going to breast cancer charities. For more information, visit nfl.com/pink. Even Diet Pepsi is teaming up with spokesperson Sofia Vergara in support of NFL Auction, donating items and experiences for fans to bid on, with proceeds benefiting the American Cancer Society.
NFL Players will be raising money for Breast Cancer Awareness with collective and individual efforts across the country. Through the NFLPA's One Team for the Cure initiative, approximately 20 players who have been affected by cancer will have personalized t-shirts available for sale at One Team Shop.com.
Since breast cancer has touched so many lives it should be no surprise that the disease has deeply affected many NFL players, coaches, and owners too. You can browse through the slideshow below to find out how your team will honor National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
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1. Arizona Cardinals
Team: Arizona Cardinals
- Monday, Sept 30: The Cardinals will host a Breast Cancer Survivor Dinner at Sapporos in Scottsdale, AZ. Players will make dinner for survivors.
- Sunday, Oct 6: Prior to kickoff, the Cardinals parachute team will jump over University of Phoenix Stadium with pink flags and pink smoke. During the game, the cheerleaders and mascot, Big Red, will wear pink items. The National Anthem will be performed by Amber Carrington, from Season 4 of the The Voice, whose mother passed away from breast cancer. Halftime will feature a special tribute to breast cancer survivors. Local high school cheerleaders will perform with pink poms, and a giant pink ribbon will be unfurled by 80 breast cancer survivors.
Personnel affected by breast cancer: Larry Fitzgerald & Nick Eason
2. Atlanta Falcons
Team: Atlanta Falcons
- Monday, Oct 1: 5th Annual Dazzle & Dine event where the Falcons will treat five breast cancer survivors to a day of pampering and a night of fine dining with players.
- During the Falcons breast cancer awareness game, the cheerleaders and Freddie Falcon will dress in pink uniforms, and Dazzle & Dine winners will be honored in a pregame ceremony. A large pink ribbon will be held by breast cancer survivors during the anthem, and the Falcons flag used for player introductions will be unfurled by breast cancer survivors and family members.
Personnel affected by breast cancer: Sam Baker & Matt Bosher
3. Baltimore Ravens
Team: Baltimore Ravens
- Sunday, Oct 13: The Ravens will host an on-field tribute recognizing local breast cancer survivors and patients currently undergoing treatment. All survivors honored on-field will receive a pink Ravens T-shirt from New Era. Ravens cheerleaders will also be in pink gear for the game and Baltimore's Marching Ravens will sport pink plumes.
- Sunday, Oct 27: "Team Purple," comprised of Ravens fans, wives and staff members, will be participating in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk.
Personnel affected by breast cancer: Vonta Leach & Jacoby Jones
4. Buffalo Bills
Team: Buffalo Bills
- Friday, Oct 11: The Bills, ECMC, ECMC Lifeline Foundation, American Cancer Society, Canadian Cancer Society, and Hard Rock Café Niagara Falls, NY are coming together to celebrate the eighth-annual Billieve event for breast cancer awareness.. The event will include an International PINKTOBER Living Ribbon across the Rainbow Bridge, linking two nations together in their fight against breast cancer. The evening will also include a ceremonial pink illumination of Niagara Falls, a free outdoor concert by Zac Brown Tribute Band, and a pink fireworks show.
Personnel affected by breast cancer: Scott Chandler & E.J. Manuel
5. Carolina Panthers
Team: Carolina Panthers
- The Panthers are partnering with the American Cancer Society for a special high school football "Crucial Catch" program in which 24 of North and South Carolina's top high school football programs will fundraise at their own "Crucial Catch" pink games during October. In addition, the Panthers are asking fans to submit "Keep Pounding Survivor Stories" to be featured on the team's website, magazine, and Game Time program throughout the month of October. All survivors who submit stories will receive tickets to the Sunday, Oct. 20 Rams vs. Panthers "A Crucial Catch" game.
- Saturday, Oct 5: Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams is captaining the "Williams Warriors" race team for the Komen Charlotte Race for the Cure for the fifth consecutive year. Since its inception, the Williams Warriors have raised $200,000 for cancer research and patient support programs. Susan Olsen, breast cancer survivor and mother of Panthers player Greg Olsen, will serve as the team's honorary "Keep Pounding" drummer prior to kickoff.
Personnel affected by breast cancer: DeAngelo Williams, Greg Olsen, Chase Blackburn, Domenik Hixon
6. Chicago Bears
Team: Chicago Bears
- The Bears will sell "Real Bears Fans Wear Pink" T-shirts benefiting area organizations that provide care and support to breast cancer patients and their families, as well as offer access to critical breast health services to low-income women.
- Sunday, Oct. 6: Breast cancer survivors will help hold the 4th Phase Flag on-field prior to kick-off at Soldier Field. The Bears and 4th Phase flags used after the Bears score will be branded in all pink. With assistance from the Chicago Park District, Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park will also be turned pink during the week leading up to the game.
Personnel affected by breast cancer: Cory Wootton, Joe DeCamillis
7. Cincinnati Bengals
Team: Cincinnati Bengals
- Sunday, Oct 6: The Bengals will honor breast cancer awareness during their BCA game at Paul Brown Stadium. In the pre-game fan zone area, "The Jungle Zone," there will be a Women's Services Van with volunteers distributing information, courtesy of team partner TriHealth. TriHealth will also be handing out pink hats, and the Bengals will recognize a 'Care Quarterback' at the game. Pre-game, they will honor the Marvin Lewis Community Fund's Pink Football Award Winner with a special presentation, including over 200 Ben-Gal Cheerleader Alumni displaying a large pink ribbon. The Pink Football winner also will deliver the pink coin to midfield for the coin toss.
Personnel affected by breast cancer: Reggie Nelson
-By Jessica Cohen
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