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Intercepting cancer in the NFL

The NFL’s Crucial Catch initiative helps bring awareness to different forms of cancer and collaborates with the American Cancer Society. Photo courtesy of NFL Crucial Catch.
The NFL’s Crucial Catch initiative helps bring awareness to different forms of cancer and collaborates with the American Cancer Society. Photo courtesy of NFL Crucial Catch.

The month of October in the National Football League (NFL) is a time to bring awareness to different forms of cancer through its Crucial Catch initiative, with the idea being to bring awareness and “intercept cancer.” 

October used to be when the NFL would focus simply on bringing awareness to breast cancer, but after realizing how many other forms of cancer there were and how they could use their platform to bring awareness is when they switched to the Crucial Catch initiative. Crucial Catch was officially implemented in the 2017-2018 NFL season. 

Former defensive end Devon Still was one of the biggest advocates for the shift after his daughter was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma, a journey he documented publicly while his daughter was battling the cancer before eventually becoming cancer-free. 

Crucial Catch is an initiative that the entire league takes part in collaboration with the American Cancer Society.. 

“The league, its clubs, players, the NFL Players Association, and the American Cancer Society are committed to providing individuals with the tools they need to help them better understand early detection and ways to reduce their cancer risk,” according to the official NFL website. 

The NFL not only creates exclusive merchandise every year to raise money toward the initiative but also has game-worn Crucial Catch gear, worn by the players, that people can bid on to also support the cause. 

“Since 2009, Crucial Catch has raised more than $24 million and impacted over one million people in communities that need it most,” according to cancer.org.  

The money raised by Crucial Catch goes toward the Community Health Advocates implementing Nationwide Grants for Empowerment and Equity (CHANGE) program, which promotes health equity and funding community-based cancer prevention programs. 

The initiative encourages people to get early screenings as a preventative method to catch cancers early and give people a better chance at surviving.  

According to a video made in collaboration between the two organizations, the five-year survival rate for many cancers is over 90 percent when detected early. 

Below are the 2022 Crucial Catch Ambassadors:  

  • Cameron Erving (Carolina Panthers) 
  • Chandler Brewer (Los Angeles Rams) 
  • Dalton Risner (Denver Broncos) 
  • Dalvin Tomlinson (Minnesota Vikings) 
  • Jerome Baker (Miami Dolphins) 
  • Johnathan Joseph (Retired) 
  • Jonathan Ward (Arizona Cardinals) 
  • Miles Boykin (Pittsburgh Steelers) 
  • Tutu Atwell (Los Angeles Rams) 
  • Demario Davis (New Orleans Saints) 
  • Trent Williams (San Francisco 49ers) 
  • Emmanuel Ogbah (Miami Dolphins) 
  • Garret Wallow (Houston Texans) 
  • Michael Dunn (Cleveland Browns) 
  • William Gholston (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) 
  • Jahan Dotson (Washington Commanders) 
  • Caleb Farley (Tennessee Titans) 
  • Osa Odighizuwa (Dallas Cowboys) 
  • Chris Lammons (Kansas City Chiefs) 
  • Marcus Epps (Philadelphia Eagles) 
  • Josh Woods (Detroit Lions) 
  • Hunter Henry (New England Patriots) 

The NFL also does things outside of Crucial Catch such as sending athletes to different hospitals to visit people battling cancer or hosting children at their facilities battling cancers to keep their spirits lifted while fighting to survive. 

For more information on Crucial Catch, visit www.nfl.com/causes/crucial-catch 

Emily Autumn Velasquez is the editor-in-chief and may be reached at [email protected]; @byemilyautumn on Instagram; @emilyautumn20 on Twitter. 

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About the Contributor
Emily Autumn Velasquez
Emily Autumn Velasquez, Editor-in-chief
Emily Autumn Velasquez is the Editor in Chief for the Prospector. She is a senior, majoring in multimedia journalism with a minor in rhetoric writing at the University of Texas at El Paso. She is also a freelance photographer/videographer with hopes of continuing a career in sports journalism when she graduates in December.
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Intercepting cancer in the NFL