NFL teams may drop breast cancer awareness campaigns

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 14: Members of the Buffalo Bills wear pink during a game against the Arizona Cardinals for Breast Cancer Awareness Month at University of Phoenix Stadium on October 14, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

NEW YORK – NFL fans have come to know October for its pink everything – the league’s way of raising awareness about breast cancer.

Beginning in October 2017, other forms of cancer may get their time to shine as teams will get to choose what form of cancer awareness they want to support.

The NFL has partnered with the American Cancer Society since 2009 on “A Crucial Catch,” which raises money for screenings and education.

The new direction of the NFL’s A Crucial Catch campaign will allow teams to pick one form of cancer for the long term, choose a new type of cancer each year, or support multiple forms in one season.

A Crucial Catch targets screenable cancers, which include breast, cervical, colorectal, lung, prostate and uterine cancer, according to guidelines from the American Cancer Society.

Teams will be able to choose to highlight any form of cancer, not just the ones that should be regularly screened for.

The new campaign will also feature a tool created by ACS to help people determine what types of cancer they should be screened for. Through the tool, they’ll be able to schedule testing with doctors.

The main part of the campaign would take place in October, as it does now for breast cancer awareness. Screenings would be promoted year round over social media and online to specific groups.

For example, messages would be targeted to women over 40 during October’s Breast Cancer Awareness month, to adults over 50 during March’s Colorectal Cancer Awareness month, to women 25 and under during January’s Cervical Cancer Awareness month.

The program raises money through the sale of pink NFL gear, but its received criticism from health watchdog groups for the percentage of that money that goes to ACS. Critics also complain that the money isn’t used to fund cancer research.

During the first year of the new campaign, there won’t be specific changes to uniforms, according to the NFL. It’s unclear whether teams and the league will abandon the neon pink gloves, cleats and penalty flags that have become synonymous with October.

While details are still being finalized, if teams are able to sport different colors for different cancers, we may see dark blue for colon cancer, peach for uterine cancer or even zebra stripe for carcinoid cancer.