NFL Alumni team with CDC in effort to combat COVID-19

The NFL Alumni Association (NFLA) has partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for an initiative to spread awareness of efforts to combat COVID-19 and fight vaccine skepticism.

NFL legends Warren Moon, Franco Harris and Rod Woodson are among a group of former NFL players that have joined the NFLA in their effort to promote COVID-19 prevention measures. They posted videos online about the importance of COVID prevention and some players will work with local health departments to spread awareness of vaccination efforts. The effort is being led by NFL Alumni Health, an initiative to support the health of NFL players and the public at large.

Janet Marchibroda, an adviser for NFL Alumni Health, explained to State of Reform that the partnership between NFLA and the CDC came together quickly in the weeks before Super Bowl LV.

“Our mission is around caring for our own, caring for kids and caring for the community. We wanted to do our part with COVID,” Marchibroda said. “We reached out [to the CDC] and they were thrilled. We saw, just as other Americans and companies have stepped forward to do their part, an opportunity to step forward and they took us up on it.”

Marchibroda said that she hopes the videos will “move the needle a little bit”, though players from NFLA’s 39 chapters teaming up with local health officials can really make a difference in combatting the pandemic.

 

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Kyle Richardson, a former Super Bowl champion with the Baltimore Ravens who serves as Co-Director of Healthcare Initiatives for the NFL Alumni Association, believes that these efforts can help raise awareness is usually underserved communities:

“The thought is [when joining the NFLA] that you can help build the community and better the community. There’s ways we can do that with our own muscle and strength and also just from the brand recognition.

We want to help in certain disadvantaged areas. Obviously our membership from the football days is predominantly African-American. So, we are going to be a part of a campaign [to help the community] and it will be nationwide.”

Vaccine skepticism in Black communities has been an issue for health officials as the COVID-19 vaccine rollout gets underway in the U.S. Only 5% of Americans who have received the vaccine so far are Black, less than half of the 12% share they make of the nation’s total population. While some of the disparity comes from inequities in health care, some Black Americans have mistrust of the U.S. medical system after high profile examples of the government intentionally mistreating them.

This is not the only effort to combat COVID-19 to come from the sports world. All 30 NFL stadiums will be used as vaccine distribution sites now that the season is over. The Los Angeles Dodgers’ stadium is one of the largest vaccine distribution sites in the country. The New York Yankees, New York Mets and Michigan Wolverines are also among teams to open their stadium as vaccine distribution sites during the offseason.

The next steps of the NFLA’s plans include buying television ads to promote safety measures to combat COVID-19. This is a similar effort to the NBA, who has leveraged the star power of their alumni to promote the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine in television ads