NFL To Shed Light On All Cancers In 2017

Every October, the NFL dedicates almost 20% of its game schedule to breast cancer. For 8 years, the football organization has covered stadiums and players in pink to raise money for the American Cancer Society. The initiative, named “A Crucial Catch”, has been a successful one, raising almost $15 million for cancer research and education. However, thanks to the efforts of the Houston Texans’ Devon Still, the league will expand its efforts to recognize various types of cancer next October.

Still’s daughter Leah was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma in late 2014. Still shared Leah’s cancer battle with the public, to shine a light on cancer and its devastating effects. At the time, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell commended Still on how he used his platform to educate the nation about cancer. Still asked if Goodell would consider using the NFL’s platform to spread the word about other forms of cancer outside of breast cancer.

In the 2017 season, Still will get his wish. The NFL will allow each team to choose which type of cancer it will support and raise funds for during the month of October. For Still, it was a proud moment.

“For a long time, we have been supporting causes close to the heads of the NFL. To find out they are really following through with this, it makes me feel like the players are gaining more of a voice,” Still told Sports Illustrated earlier this month.

During Leah’s cancer battle, Still showed his support by painting the words Leah Strong across his face during his games. Now, he’ll have a much bigger platform to spread the word.

As positive as the NFL’s efforts have been, their cancer awareness efforts haven’t been without controversy. Their breast cancer campaign has been criticized as a publicity stunt to attract more female viewers. Additionally, the organization has been criticized for only donating a portion of profits from pink merchandise to the ACS.

The NFL isn’t letting the criticism stop them from moving forward. In the new year, it’s likely the players’ uniforms will not be altered for their chosen cause. Also, teams have previously auctioned off gear and equipment to raise funds. This year, the NFL commission is brainstorming new strategies and approaches.

2017 is a transition year that will help shine a light on several forms of cancer and provide insight into ways the NFL can better support the ACS. Regardless of the outcome, a universal conversation about cancer will be front and center in the new year.

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