NFL moves on from all-pink October, will let teams pick cancer charity

AP

NFL teams can still wear pink to raise awareness for breast cancer awareness if they want.

But beginning next year, they’ll have a choice.

According to Jenny Vrentas of TheMMQB.com, the league told teams last week they’ll be able to choose their own cancer charity to support next October, which will fall under the league-wide umbrella called “A Crucial Catch.”

So if a team wants to choose some other cancer such as prostate or colorectal or another detectable, screenable cancer, they can. For teams with players or coaches who have been touched by particular cancers, it will allow them to make the campaign more personal, and they can support more than one per season and change year-to-year.

“It’s a balancing act,” Anna Isaacson, the NFL’s VP of social responsibility said. “We have seen a lot of success in having focused, strategic campaigns. Focusing on one cause, fundraising for it, bringing it to life, choosing a message, spreading word among our fans. We are committed to that. But we are also committed to making sure the voice of our clubs are heard and making sure the voice of our players is heard.”

The league has made breast cancer awareness its focus since 2009, and says it has raised close to $15 million for the American Cancer Society during that span through the sale of pink merchandise and other associated charitable donations (including from corporate sponsors). Details are still being worked out for future efforts.

“The truth is, as we transition in 2017, it will be a different kind of year,” Isaacson said. “Once we see how that goes, we will know more for 2018. We hope we raise, if not the same, more than we have, of course. The pressure is on to think about how we can do that. That’s the goal, but I wouldn’t say we have solved that yet.”

Like their recent “Cleats for a Cause” promotion, which allowed players to wear shoes promoting their own personal causes, the league is stepping back, a bit, from its long-held uniformity (in a very controlled way, of course). But by allowing teams some flexibility, teams can also personalize the message, perhaps making it more meaningful to each market.