DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – When it comes to cancer, offense can be the best defense. This month, the NFL is taking the fight to the field to raise awareness about prevention.
In its 10th year, “Crucial Catch” is a partnership between the NFL and the American Cancer Society. Colorful emblems will be seen in the end zones and on the gear of players and coaches.
“There’s a reason why it’s on the field. Why so many people support the fight against cancer,” says Darren Woodson, who played for the Dallas Cowboys for a decade.
For Woodson, that fight became personal this past year. “I’ve never had anyone in my family pass from cancer so it never affected me until it affected me,” he says.
Woodson lost his older brother, Randy, to liver cancer in December. Randy, who was a 54-year-old father of two, passed away just three weeks after his diagnosis.
Woodson says it was a devastatingly hard hit for his entire family. “It surprised all of us. Randy wasn’t a drinker. He wasn’t a smoker, but he was a man who had liver cancer and it overwhelmed him in a short period of time.”
Woodson is motivated to to be a force for change. He’s the spokesperson for “Crucial Catch” this season. The program is committed to saving lives from cancer, through awareness of all types of the disease.
“If you get one of the best defenders ever to play in the NFL to partner with you on this, it’s perfect,” says Jeff Fehlis, Executive Vice President for the American Cancer Society.
Fehlis explains a new “Crucial Catch” feature: an online self-assessment tool called The Defender. There, anyone can enter data and receive a personalized game plan to make healthy changes aimed at cancer prevention.
“Over 50-percent of all cancers could be prevented through simple lifestyle modifications,” Fehlis says.
Woodson wishes his brother could have fought cancer at an earlier stage.
He says it’s his turn, to push back now. “Whatever I can do to put that body armor on and fight cancer, I’ll do it. Doesn’t matter what it is, it’s a devastating disease.”
At the October 20 home game versus the Eagles, the Dallas Cowboys will host approximately 100 survivors and co-survivors of seven types of cancer. They’ll be on field for a special show at halftime.