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Detroit Lions Host Denver Broncos on Sunday Night Football

STAMFORD, Conn. – September 24, 2015 – In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, tomorrow’s “Together We Make Football” segment on TODAY highlights Detroit Lions guard and Houston, Texas, native Manny Ramirez.

Growing up in Houston, Ramirez was the only Hispanic player on his high school football team. He went on to earn a football scholarship to Texas Tech, and was selected by the Detroit Lions with the 18th pick in the 4th round of the 2007 NFL Draft.

Now back in Detroit for the second time in his NFL career, others in the Hispanic community can look up to Ramirez, who takes a lot of pride in being a good role model. He spends time with his family in “Mexicantown,” a community in southwest Detroit, encouraging young Latinos to think big when it comes to their future, and connecting his own children with their heritage.

To read the entire release, please click here.


Total number of former NFL players participating in program has tripled since its inception

Randy Gradishar, Jesse Sapolu, Ahman Green and Neil Rackers among those partnering with USA Football for the 2015 season

More than 220 former NFL players are serving as Master Trainers and Ambassadors to teach and reinforce USA Football’s Heads Up Football program to youth leagues and high schools nationwide during the 2015 season. The number of former NFL Players participating in the program has tripled since 2013.

Approximately 6,500 youth football leagues and more than 1,100 high schools nationwide, representing more than 1 million players, have enrolled in Heads Up Football for better and safer play this season. The program has been endorsed by experts in medicine, child advocacy and athletics.

Of USA Football’s 83 Master Trainers, 13 played in the NFL, bringing knowledge and insight gained from competing at the sport’s highest level. USA Football Master Trainers lead full-day instructional sessions for high school and youth programs nationwide, teaching Heads Up Football’s curriculum to high school- and youth league-appointed Player Safety Coaches.

In addition, more than 215 former NFL players will serve as Heads Up Football Ambassadors, visiting practices and games of teams that participate in the program. Ambassadors strengthen awareness and reinforce Heads Up Football’s messages and standards.

For full release, click here



Seattle Seahawks Visit Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football

STAMFORD, Conn. – September 17, 2015 – Tomorrow’s “Together We Make Football” segment on TODAY highlights Seattle Seahawks fans David and Sarah Webber.

Their story revolves around a twist of fate meeting in 2007, involving the Seahawks 2006 Wild Card playoff win and a little bit of luck – were it not for Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo’s fumble and Seahawks safety Jordan Babineaux’s tackle, David and Sarah likely would never have met. They are now married with one child and a second on the way.

David, a massive Seahawks fan his entire life, had moved from Seattle to Wisconsin for work. Known more as Packers than 12th Man territory, David had no one to accompany him to Chicago to attend Seattle’s Divisional Playoff game against the Chicago Bears. David took to MySpace to find other Seahawks fans to attend the game with and ended up finding Sarah.  Although she was back in Seattle, they had an instant connection and ended up meeting and marrying.

For the complete release click here.


The NFL got Back to Football in exciting and record-breaking fashion. With an average of 19.9 million viewers for NFL games (Sept. 10-14), 2015 was the most-watched NFL Kickoff Weekend ever, topping the average 19.6 million viewers for 2013’s Kickoff Weekend.

For the sixth consecutive year, more than 105M viewers watched Kickoff Weekend games on CBS, ESPN, FOX and NBC.

NBC’s Thursday Kickoff game, which featured the Super Bowl XLIX champion New England Patriots hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers, was the most-watched show of the week and the second-most watched Kickoff game ever, averaging 27.4M viewers.

The New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys matchup on NBC’s Sunday Night Football was the second-most watched show of the week (26.8M viewers) and the second most-watched Sunday Night Football opener ever. Two additional NFL telecasts topped 20 million viewers – CBS Sunday National (mostly Ravens-Broncos, 23.3M viewers) and the Fox Sunday Single (mostly Packers-Bears, 20.1M viewers).

In addition, NFL Kickoff Weekend games were three of the top 10 most-watched telecasts among all television programs since Super Bowl Sunday including awards shows, such as the Academy Awards, and Presidential Debates.

For full release, click here


The American Heart Association (AHA) and the National Football League (NFL) have teamed up to launch a program that is designed to help promote physical activity and safe sport participation among youth.

The program, titled Back to Sports, is geared towards the parents and caregivers of upper elementary, middle and high school aged students who actively participate in sports or are considering it as an extra-curricular activity. Through an additional grant program that has been established, Back to Sports will engage with athletic trainers who will serve as expert facilitators to deliver sports safety information in up to 100 communities across the country this year.

The goal of Back to Sports is to increase awareness of the benefits of sports participation as a positive way for children to achieve the recommended 60 minutes or more of daily physical activity, while addressing key safety concerns including concussion awareness, heat and hydration, cardiac arrest and proper response and the prevention of pediatric overuse injuries. The program provides credible, easy-to-understand information and ongoing resources and education for parents and caregivers, teachers, coaches, youth sports leagues and others, which also includes information about nutrition and healthy snacks.

For full release, click here

NFL senior exec Joe Browne looks back on 50 years in league


The following piece appeared in the September 7 edition of the Sports Business Journal


I look forward to Thursday’s kickoff of another NFL season just like millions of sports fans around the country.

This will be a special one for me because it marks 50 years since I started as a college student working part time in Pete Rozelle’s league office in New York in 1965.

It also will be special because I have decided this will be my final season working for the only employer I’ve ever had.

I recently began telling my younger colleagues that they should consider changing jobs every 50 years or so if for no other reason than to keep fresh.

I have been in the commissioner’s office for more than half of the league’s 96 seasons. I became the longest-serving league office employee several years ago, which was not one of my goals when I began. It’s time for some younger 60- or 50-year-old to take my place.

When I started, I needed working papers from New York state because I was not yet 18. My first football game was a Giants-Steelers matchup in 1965. I sat in a nonreserved section behind the home-plate screen on ground level at Yankee Stadium. I could not see much but … I think the Giants wore blue.

I was so proud to use for the first time that day a gold-plated pass all league employees received that enabled us to enter any stadium in the league. There were only 14 teams then. I wish I had kept that wallet-sized pass.

There were 11 full-time employees when I started in our Rockefeller Center office, including the commissioner and the receptionist.

Now we have 1,100 employees in offices around the globe, and I’m afraid I don’t know all of them by first name.

We moved our main office to Park Avenue in 1968 on the same day I left for Parris Island, S.C. Pete used to tell friends I was the only guy ever to join the Marines simply to get out of an office move. When I returned, I was assigned to Don Weiss and our small public relations department, where I stayed most of my career.

Working for Pete was like getting a Ph.D. in sports business, management and promotion. It was no coincidence his initials were PR. “If you understand that the clubs get the credit and our office the blame, you may survive in this business,” he told me one day at lunch. Pete drank Coke in the morning, smoked Marlboros at all hours, hated staff meetings and hardly ever lost his cool. He understood the impact of network television better than anyone in or outside sports. He was a quiet leader who let you do your job.

Paul Tagliabue began working as outside NFL counsel in the late ’60s. He was more than prepared to succeed Pete in ’89 and led the league through 17 years of labor peace, expansion, stadium development and national crises. Although a small group of media voters who decide inductees to the Pro Football Hall of Fame underestimate Paul’s immense impact on the league, the football people understand his contributions. Ask Bill Polian, Tom Coughlin or Tony Dungy. Paul has been rightfully honored by several national minority organizations for the role he played as commissioner in providing African-Americans opportunity as NFL head coaches and general managers.

My former protégé Roger Goodell has said several times that we were fortunate to have worked for the best two sports commissioners ever. Roger’s right, and he now too has shown great business acumen and wisdom in already his 10th season in charge. He is a strong leader and business negotiator who from day one has been totally dedicated to the league, and has shown relentless commitment to improving our sport, making it more enjoyable for the fans and safer for our players. He has an ability to deal with complex issues, break them down, analyze them and then put them back together better than ever.

There are many reasons for NFL success but having only three commissioner/CEOs in 55 years has given us great stability at the top to lead along with the owners who understand the unique partnership they share.

Both the 50th Super Bowl and 50th anniversary of the AFL-NFL merger occur next year. My role in the merger cannot be overstated since I was the messenger who on June 8, 1966, hand-delivered the press release announcing the merger to United Press International. If I had taken off that day, who knows how the history of the league might have played out.

My feelings toward Super Bowl 50 are bittersweet since this will be only the 49th consecutive Super Bowl that I attend in person.

I was working for the league when the first game was played in Los Angeles, but I watched it from home. However, I played an integral role in the days leading up to kickoff by proofreading rosters and delivering to the post office in New York cartons of supplies that were bound for the West Coast. I am sure it is just coincidence but the only Super Bowl I did not work remains the only one that did not sell out.

Ironically, I did work the NFL championship game in Dallas two weeks earlier that season when the Packers defeated the Cowboys in a New Year’s Day thriller. That for serious football fans was the biggest game of the season, one played between two real NFL teams. No one, including me, thought that the upstart AFL Chiefs would beat Vince Lombardi’s Packers in Los Angeles. They didn’t.

I asked Roger a year ago if I could stay on until the golden Super Bowl 50 is played and he agreed. Not even Pete Rozelle would have imagined the popularity, size and status in this country that Super Bowls currently enjoy. We will have a great time in the Bay Area early next year.

Looking back, I have been fortunate to have been in league meetings when Coach Lombardi commanded the microphone. I had coffee with George Halas in Washington before he testified before Congress regarding the unique structure of the league. I ran horse bets for Wellington Mara and Art (The Chief) Rooney in Saratoga on occasion.

I’ve had a drink with Ronald Reagan in New Orleans after he left the White House, and have been at separate times in the Oval Office with Bush 43 and President Clinton (Bill, that is).

I have traveled to Tokyo for the Japan Bowl, Green Bay for the Ice Bowl and Dusseldorf for the World Bowl.

I spent more time in courtrooms than many lawyers … thanks in part to Al Davis, Donald Trump and the NFLPA. My fondest memory in court was standing 10 feet away from my fellow Queens native, “The Donald,” when the USFL jury returned just a $1 verdict in 1986.

I have lobbied Tip O’Neill and Bernie Sanders on one set of issues in Congress and Newt Gingrich and Orrin Hatch on others. I thought some of my most rewarding work was done when I was executive vice president for government relations and responsible for our D.C. office in the ’90s and 2000s.

We inherited the well-deserved reputation of having the best and hardest-working public relations staff in sports. That started with Pete and his right-hand man Jim Kensil in the early ’60s. I was determined when I became vice president of communications in the early ’90s that it was not going to change on my watch. I believe their legacy continues to this day. Greg Aiello, Pete Abitante, Jim Heffernan and Alexia Gallagher were valuable members of our PR team through the years. We as communications professionals had many accomplishments but also some real challenges dealing with the media on labor strikes, courtroom battles and franchise moves. Our daily work would never be compared to a civil service job. We dealt with issues that so many people care about.

I have been asked which owners I have enjoyed working for, and I remind people that I get paid by all 32. However, Jerry Richardson, Alex Spanos and the late Mara are three for whom I have extraordinary respect, but that doesn’t mean they were reluctant to express their opinions. Mara told me after one league meeting, “If you were the one pushing Rozelle to implement that new policy, I strongly recommend you start looking for other employment, and I will you call you each week to see if you have been successful at that.” He didn’t and, fortunately, I didn’t have to either.

I currently am working as senior adviser to the commissioner in support of our 20,000-plus retired players. While some guys are struggling, so many of them are doing well in their post-NFL careers as businessmen, judges, lawyers, high school and college teachers, coaches, and doctors. Joe Namath, Mel Blount and Fred Biletnikoff are not only Pro Football Hall of Famers but greats guys whom I consider friends.

I already am excited by some of the new challenges awaiting after Super Bowl 50. I am glad it will be an election year because it means a new storyline every day.

However, I still have six months of opportunities ahead of me while assisting my league office colleagues during this 50th Super Bowl season.

I just keep wondering how things might have been different for the NFL if I had called in sick on June 8, 1966.

Statement from Commissioner Goodell

Statement from Commissioner Roger Goodell

We are grateful to Judge Berman for hearing this matter, but respectfully disagree with today’s decision. We will appeal today’s ruling in order to uphold the collectively bargained responsibility to protect the integrity of the game. The commissioner’s responsibility to secure the competitive fairness of our game is a paramount principle, and the league and our 32 clubs will continue to pursue a path to that end. While the legal phase of this process continues, we look forward to focusing on football and the opening of the regular season.


The NFL will kick off Super Bowl 50 festivities in the San Francisco Bay Area by hosting participating teams in primetime at Super Bowl Opening Night Fueled by Gatorade on Monday, February 1, 2016 at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., the NFL announced today.

Super Bowl Opening Night is a shift from the traditional Media Day held on Tuesday morning. This will be the first time the players and coaches address the media while in the Bay Area. The event will begin at 5:00 p.m. PT with interviews from approximately 5:15 to 6:15 p.m. PT and 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. PT. on Monday.

For full release, click here


As the NFL kicks off its season-long celebration of Super Bowl 50, fans nationwide can celebrate the return to football and have the opportunity to break a Guinness World Record by participating in the NFL’s Back to Football Friday challenge.

Starting Thursday, Sept. 10 at 12 p.m. ET, fans can showcase their team spirit and upload photos of themselves using #NFLFanRecord on Twitter, Instagram or at

Participating fans have the chance to break the Guinness World Record for “Largest Online Photo Album of People Wearing NFL Team Logos.” Each photo counts as one World Record entry, regardless of the number of fans in the photo. The Back to Football Friday challenge will conclude on Friday, Sept. 11 at midnight ET.

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On Monday, August 24, NFL Network kicks off a three-part series called ‘Huddle Up.’ Each installment of the series will air on NFL Network’s NFL Preseason HQ at 8:00 AM ET and NFL Total Access at 7:00 PM ET from August 24-26. The series, hosted by NFL Network correspondent and mother of four Melissa Stark, features candid conversation and unique perspectives between football moms on youth sports and safety. Segments will include discussions on Heads Up Football, injuries and concussions, and dealing with coaches, among other topics.

Each ‘Huddle Up’ segment will be available for viewing on

Featured guests include Christine Golic, an NFL consultant on youth football and a member of the Heads Up Football Advisory Committee, Dr. Elizabeth Pieroth, a neuropsychologist who specializes in head injuries for the Bears and other professional sports teams in Chicago, and Stephanie Rivera, former assistant coach for the WNBA’s Washington Mystics.

For the complete release, click here