Well, Widows, we have made it to week 5 of the season. This week celebrated the return of the regular officials, which was most likely as big of a hit at your house as it was at mine. Coming out of week 4, I am still coming up last with my predictions. Widow’s intuition allowed me to tie Idaho Quarter, which basically means that I did as well as chance when it comes to selecting who will win football games. I want to do better, ladies. I had not-so-secretly hoped to beat the pants off of the likes of Ghost Rate, Fat Jesus, Country Preacher and Flip Stricland. I may have even bragged a little that I would. It isn’t looking good so far, but we have a long way to go. That is lucky for me. And for the Saints. And the Browns. And the Lions. Unfortunately, the team I most identify with at this point in the Jets; lost, confused, not seeming to understand the game, and with an ever-increasing potty mouth.
If this is your first time joining me, you don’t know that up until this season much of the game of football has been a mystery to me. I have operated with an “ignorance is bliss” approach to the NFL, which had me thinking, for example, that football was only on television on Sunday and Monday. I have gone YEARS without so much as watching a game. In my effort to be the best Football Widow I can be, I have made it a priority to learn something about the game in order to better understand the socially redeeming value that my husband finds in professional football. Imagine my excitement when I discovered a large amount of it this week when I saw officials and players getting their “Pink On”!
I am going to deviate from my usual fun-poking at the NFL to write about the most pleasant surprise I have had to date: The “A Crucial Catch” campaign to support early detection of breast cancer. October was named Breast Cancer Awareness Month in 1984, and the NFL began their support of the cause in 2009. Games played from October 5-27 will be designated as Breast Cancer Awareness Games with items worn by players, pink coins used in the coin toss, and special game balls to be auctioned off with the money donated to the cause. To date, the NFL has raised over $3 million, largely from auction proceeds.
I was impressed by the various ways in which the NFL players, owners and officials have embraced Breast Cancer Awareness. The NFL Referee’s Association presented a check for $14,000 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure during a pregame ceremony at Texas Stadium on Sept. 28. Home games will be dedicated to these efforts this month, with various programs and promotional activities, featuring support for both national and local initiatives that promote early detection. Teams are also partnering with local chapters of the Zeta Tau Alpha (ZTA) sorority whose national philanthropy is breast cancer education and awareness. The activities are too numerous to mention, and can be found by visiting the NFL’s official website.
So, why breast cancer, a disease that most significantly impacts women? In my research on the topic, I found a few skeptics that see this as an opportunistic effort to draw women to the game, given our power when it comes to attracting would-be advertisers. The sale of women’s NFL clothing has doubled in recent years and I myself have seen a very cute commercial for women’s game day jerseys. Nielson ratings reveal that viewership is up among young women, age 18-34, while down in general among women. Still, in the world of professional sports, the NFL has a higher percentage of female fans than any other sport, with most recent US Census data and ESPN surveys indicating that around 44% of fans are women. That’s a lot of breast to protect, Widows…not to mention the wonderful array of man boobs (moobs?) out there in the world of football fandom! To the skeptics, I say “So what?” Many NFL players, like many of us, have been touched personally by breast cancer and using this forum to promote early detection should be applauded.
In 2004, Deanna Favre, wife of retired future Hall of Famer Brett Favre was diagnosed with breast cancer. They dedicate efforts of the Deanna Favre’s HOPE Foundation to the cause. Stephanie Spielman, wife of former linebacker Chris Spielman died of the disease in 2009 at the age of 42. The couple had also been strong supporters and Spielman continues his involvement. Cowboys Line Backer Bradie James supports a team that will walk in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure on behalf of Foundation 56, his personal foundation which raises funds and awareness for breast cancer causes. His mother, Etta, died of the disease in 2001. The Rams established Team Georgia, in memory of late team owner and chairman, Georgia Frontiere, who lost her battle with breast cancer in January 2012. The list goes on and on.
According to nfl.com, “The money raised through A Crucial Catch will support the American Cancer Society’s Community Health Advocates National Grants for Empowerment (CHANGE) program. This program provides outreach and breast cancer screenings to women who need them. The NFL markets being supported in the first year of the program are Atlanta, Baltimore, New England, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kansas City, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Seattle, and Washington, DC.” You, and women in need in those areas, are already winners going into Week 5!
My helmet is off to you, NFL players, owners and officials. This week, my plan was to choose the home team to win, regardless of the matchup. I am sticking to that plan in honor of the dedication of home games to breast cancer awareness. I make a few deviations based on my usual scientific criteria. I am choosing the Packers over the Colts although the Colts are the home team. The NFL press release indicates that the highlighted activities are to be performed by the teams’ Women’s Associations related to local Race for the Cure events, so I went with my gut on that one. I am also choosing the Texans to beat the Jets as a shout out to the efforts of the Lady Texan Wives Association team who will be participating in the Race for the Cure. I’ve got nothin’ in the Football Widow department compared to player’s wives! I wasn’t able to find any information on what the Jets franchise will be specifically doing during their home games this month, but I want to acknowledge Mark Sanchez for recording a public service announcement in support.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but thanks, NFL!
Week 5 Picks
Rams over Cardinals
Redskins over Falcons
Steelers over Eagles
Packers over Colts
Giants over Browns
Vikings over Titans
Bengals over Dophins
Chiefs over Ravens
Panthers over Seahawks
Jaguars over Bears
Patriots over Broncos
49ers over Bills
Saints over Chargers
Texans over Jets