NFL and American Cancer Society Continue the Fight Against Cancer


  • Since 2012, NFL funding has reached more than one million people nationwide with education, navigation and screening reminders
  • More than $20 million has been raised and donated to ACS through the partnership

For the 11th consecutive season, the National Football League and the American Cancer Society are working together to support the fight against cancer through “Crucial Catch: Intercept Cancer.” The initiative, which kicks off in stadiums this weekend and continues to be highlighted through Week 7 games, addresses early detection and risk reduction efforts for multiple cancers.

Since 2009, more than $20 million has been raised and donated to ACS through the partnership. Funds donated through Crucial Catch this season will continue to support the American Cancer Society’s Community Health Advocates implementing Nationwide Grants for Empowerment and Equity (CHANGE) Program, a community-based grant program that provides grant opportunities to community health centers to support systems-level change and increased access to low- or no-cost cancer screenings in underserved communities. CHANGE grants are currently being administered in each NFL market to address Breast Health Equity, access to screenings, education, and follow-up care.  This work will help reduce the disparity in breast cancer survival among African American women, who die at an almost 40% higher rate of breast cancer.

Since 2012, CHANGE grants have contributed to 326,700  screenings and have reached more than 1 million  individuals with education, screening reminders and patient navigation, bringing these life-saving messages and screening services to those who need them most.  This season, NFL funding will pilot an ACS CHANGE grant to address lung cancer among high-risk populations in seven NFL markets. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death among both men and women and expected to be the second most diagnosed cancer in 2019 for both men and women (second only to breast for women, and prostate for men). Grant recipients will be announced on Nov. 1, the start of lung cancer awareness month.

As part of the campaign, the NFL and ACS will continue encouraging the entire NFL community to complete THE DEFENDER, a free digital tool, which provides consumers with a personalized game plan to reduce their cancer risk. The Defender shows how healthy lifestyle habits can help reduce cancer risk because when it comes to cancer, OFFENSE IS THE BEST DEFENSE. Fans may access The Defender at

Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans cornerbacks, AJ BOUYE and JOHNATHAN JOSEPH, donated tickets to their Nov. 3matchup in London, so that fans who complete The Defender will have the option to donate to ACS and enter for a chance to win two tickets to Jaguars vs. Texans game in London, inclusive of travel, as part of an ACS sweepstakes.

Several players will again support the campaign, including DREW BREES, QUINNEN WILLIAMS, KYLE RUDOLPH, and the American Cancer Society’s fifteen player ambassadors who have lent their voice, and will make appearances at community events throughout the month of October.

Crucial Catch also reaches the youth and high school football community across the country. NFL Legend and youth football coach, KURT WARNER, has become the national ambassador of Youth Crucial Catch.  With the help of USA Football, NFL Legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer member JIM KELLY sent a note to youth and high school football coaches nationally, offering ideas for how schools and teams can join the fight against cancer. Youth football trailblazer and NFL Honors Game Changer Award winner, SAM GORDON, has also joined the campaign as a national ambassador.  Interested teams may visit to sign up, pledge to fundraise for ACS, and download a toolkit to host their own Crucial Catch game.

NFL-issued Crucial Catch gameday apparel will feature a multi-colored logo representing all cancers. NFL teams have the option of supporting early detection and risk-reduction efforts for one or multiple cancers in-stadium and in their communities. In addition, players may wear cleats, shoelaces and wristbands in any color representing the type of cancer awareness they support and/or have been impacted by during their team’s Crucial Catch game. Fans can also purchase Crucial Catch apparel on

Beginning on Sunday, Oct. 6, and continuing through Week 7, NFL Crucial Catch games will feature:

  • Game balls with the Crucial Catch logo
  • Multi-colored equipment for players including: helmet decals, captains’ patches, cleats, wristbands, gloves, sideline caps, sideline towels, quarterback towels and shoelaces.
  • Multi-colored ribbon pins for coaches and teams
  • Caps and pins for game officials
  • On-field multi-colored Crucial Catch stencils
  • Multi-colored goal post wraps in end zones
  • Field-wall banners in the color(s) of the cancer awareness movement(s) that each club supports

Game-worn Crucial Catch merchandise and footballs will be autographed and auctioned on NFL Auction ( The NFL does not profit from the sale of Crucial Catch merchandise. Charitable contributions are donated to the American Cancer Society to support its CHANGE grant program.


In honor of its 100th season, the NFL launched Huddle for 100. The goal of the initiative is to inspire 1 million people to volunteer 100 minutes of their time. The NFL is hosting a series of “National Huddles” that are tied to either a League tentpole event of or a League initiative throughout the season. National Huddles are large scale volunteer events focused on a specific cause. On Oct. 8 from 1 – 3 PM, leading up to the Los Angeles Chargers Sunday Night Football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the NFL will host its fourth National Huddle centered around Crucial Catch and the fight against cancer: Huddle to Intercept Cancer.

Huddle to Intercept Cancer will highlight the NFL’s Crucial Catch initiative and its partnership with the American Cancer Society. This year’s Crucial Catch game in Los Angeles will help to bring awareness to the unique circumstances of patients, caregivers, and survivors and will emphasize the importance of understanding preventative habits and early detection. The event will take place at Dignity Health Sports Park in Los Angeles and will include an intimate experience for patients, caregivers, and survivors where they will have the opportunity to enjoy therapeutic activities that bring about a sense of community, while allowing them to focus on their personal wellness. There will also be a volunteer component, where over 250 members of the LA community will come together and participate in different activities that give back to those affected by cancer, while also helping to raise awareness around screenings and risk reduction.

The NFL and all 32 teams support Crucial Catch and the fight against cancer all year long. In October, NFL teams designate home games and plan events with local organizations to bring awareness to the cause.

Roy Kessel

Roy Kessel

Roy Kessel is the Founder of the Sports Philanthropy Network. Roy has worked in the sports business world for over 20 years including serving as an instructor in Northwestern University's graduate Sports Management Program. Having served as a sports lawyer representing athletes, entrepreneurs and start-up businesses, Roy has extensive experience helping organizations improve their strategy, marketing, communications and leadership development.
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