by Hope Peterson
Sunday night you are sitting down on the couch about to watch the Falcons and Panthers play some ’ball but instead of focusing on if your team wins the coin toss, your eyes are drawn to the 250-lb. men with black-striped, intimidating faces wearing . . . pink.
Yes, you read me right. A pink tint fills the screen on ESPN channels as some of the country’s fiercest athletes support breast cancer awareness. NFL players are now “pretty in pink.”
An article on the American Cancer Society website explains the beginnings of its partnership with the NFL. In 2009, the NFL supported the American Cancer Society in its campaign to gain funds to improve access to breast cancer screening.
Families of NFL players, including Redskins guard Derrick Dockery and Tanya Snyder, wife of Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, attended the campaign along side the society. Tanya Snyder with Arizona Cardinals player Larry Fitzgerald soon became the face for what is now known as “A Crucial Catch” campaign.
According to a New York Times article, Snyder and Fitzgerald began by passing out pink gloves, wristbands and cleats for NFL players to wear during October games. Goal-post legs are also wrapped in pink.
Snyder said one of her daughters would push “pink ribbons onto reluctant men by telling them, ‘Real men wear pink.’” It was straight from the mouth of a child to an NFL player.
Now, as October begins Breast Cancer Awareness month, the NFL has kicked off its third annual “A Crucial Catch” campaign. The campaign aims to remind women who are 40 and older to schedule regular mammograms to promote the importance of annual screenings to fight breast cancer.
The goal of the American Cancer Society is to “save lives by helping people stay well by preventing cancer or detecting it early.”
“Throughout October, NFL games will feature players, coaches and referees wearing pink game apparel, on-field pink ribbon stencils, special game balls and pink coins – all to help raise awareness for this important campaign,” the NFL said in its description of the “A Crucial Catch” initiative.
Even though the color pink is associated with femininity, what better way to show women their support than for men’s heroes to broadcast a bold color they are proud to wear. These men who love their wives, moms, sisters, daughters, aunts, cousins, nieces, girlfriends and friends brave up and don the pink, proving to women everywhere that “thinking pink” can be powerful.
While pink has been the universal color for breast cancer awareness since the June 1990 Susan G. Komen walk, pink had yet to publicly cross that gender bridge until recent campaigns like “A Crucial Catch.”
However, professionals aren’t the only ones repping the pink. The NFL is asking coaches and players of all ages across the country to help campaign “A Crucial Catch.”
And, it has “caught” on very quickly. On Friday nights and Saturday mornings, high school and middle school football fields across the nation are filled with teenage boys in pink apparel. Now doesn’t that say something if a teenage boy will wear a “girl’s” color, just to tell his mom he cares?