NFL’s ‘Crucial Catch’ brings awareness to the importance of catching cancer early

NFL’s ‘Crucial Catch’ brings awareness to the importance of catching cancer early

It Takes All of Us to Fight Cancer: NFL and American Cancer Society (ACS) work together to increase screening rates and provide resources amid COVID-19 pandemic

For the 12th 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 today and continues to be highlighted through Week 6 games, addresses early detection, getting screened, and risk reduction efforts across multiple types of cancers.  This year specifically, Crucial Catch will be a part of the League’s It Takes All of Us brand campaign, which highlights the importance of everyone joining together to make a difference in the lives of others. 

Crucial Catch helps people catch cancer early, when it may be easier to treat. This is a greater challenge than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on screening. Since March 2020, routine cancer screenings have dropped, resulting in a screening rate drop between 86% and 94% for some cancers. Through Crucial Catch, the NFL and American Cancer Society are allocating resources dedicated to safely restarting cancer screenings in communities with the most need. For many forms of cancer (breast, cervical, colorectal and prostate), the five-year survival rate is above 90% when detected early before it has a chance to spread. 

“For the last 12 years, the American Cancer Society and the NFL have together been focused on providing resources and assistance to help ensure that more Americans have access to critical cancer screenings,” said Gary Reedy, Chief Executive Officer of the American Cancer Society. “Having the support and partnership of the NFL and its fans through Crucial Catch will undoubtedly lead to more lives saved.”

Since 2012, the NFL has funded ACS’ Community Health Advocates Implementation Nationwide Grants for Empowerment and Equity (CHANGE) grants, which have contributed to 370,000 screenings in underserved communities and reached more than 1,070,000 million individuals with education, screening reminders and patient navigation, bringing these life-saving messages and screening services to those who need them most. 

All 32 NFL teams will 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 colour representing the type of cancer awareness they support and/or have been impacted by during their team’s Crucial Catch game. 

NFL-issued Crucial Catch gameday apparel will feature a multi-coloured logo representing all cancers. New this year, New Era and Nike have created newly designed Crucial Catch gear, highlighting the NFL’s commitment to drawing awareness to and supporting multiple cancer prevention efforts. Fans can purchase NFL-licensed  Crucial Catch apparel on

Beginning on Thursday, Oct. 1, and continuing through Week 6, NFL Crucial Catch games will feature:

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

“Game-worn Crucial Catch merchandise will be 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.”

It Takes All of Us 

It Takes all of Us to Fight Cancer. One person’s fight with cancer is never one person’s fight. Everyone’s battle against cancer requires the help and support of the people by their side. This season, the League will give players, coaches, and fans who’ve battled cancer an opportunity to pay tribute to someone who helped them along the way through Crucial Catch

This year’s Crucial Catch TV spot, which will bring to life theIt Takes All of Us brand platform introduced at Kickoff,includescancer survivors and advocates with NFL ties, including: James Conner, Kyle Rudolph, Johnathan Joseph, Chuck Pagano, And Leah Still, daughter of Devon Still. Videos on social and digital platforms will feature these five individuals, as well as two fans who fought and overcame cancer. In addition, all videos will drive to and conclude with, “The NFL created Crucial Catch because early detection can save lives. Join the fight by getting screened today.”​

Each of the players involved in this year’s Crucial Catch campaign have been personally impacted by cancer in some way. James Conner is a cancer survivor who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma while in college, when doctors found tumours around his neck and chest. Johnathan Joseph lost both his grandfather and father to cancer. Kyle Rudolph’s brother, Casey, was born with neuroblastoma, an aggressive cancer that affects babies. His brother was behind his motivation to build the ‘Kyle Rudolph End Zone’ at the U of M’s Masonic Children’s Hospital. Coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with Leukaemia in 2012 when he was just a few months into his new role as Head Coach of the Indianapolis Colts. Former NFL defensive lineman Devon Still recently celebrated his daughter, Leah’s, five-year anniversary cancer-free after being given a 50-50 chance to live. Leah was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma in 2014. 

In addition to these NFL representatives, ACS has a total of 35 NFL player ambassadors who have lent their voices and will make virtual appearances with cancer patients, survivors and caretakers throughout the month of October and year-round.

Youth Crucial Catch

Each season, youth football teams from across the country participate in Youth Crucial Catch to host their own Crucial Catch football games to raise awareness for multiple cancers and to raise money for ACS. This season, Youth Crucial Catch is virtual on TikTok. On Friday, September 25, the NFL and ACS launched a “Friday Night Lights” livestream kick-off virtual event on TikTok featuring NFL Legends, current players, fans, player families, and cancer survivors of all ages and ethnicities. The program was dedicated to The Washington Football Team’s Head Coach, Ron Rivera, who is currently battling cancer. Fans are encouraged to participate in the TikTok challenge by posting a video showing their “Crucial Catch” dance. All funds raised on the platform will be donated to ACS.

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 – though this year these will look different and more than likely have a virtual component to them. The fight against cancer doesn’t stop for anything, even a global pandemic, and the NFL and it’s 32 clubs alongside ACS will continue to work together to help battle this awful disease.

For more information on Crucial Catch and resources for getting screened, visit

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