The National Football League announced today a new comprehensive health program for former and current players that will provide additional resources to address personal issues. NFL TOTAL WELLNESS builds upon current NFL programs and services that assist members of the NFL family with matters such as physical and mental health, family safety, lifestyle and transition into their post-NFL life.
The initiative was launched today at a meeting at the NFL office in New York that included COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL and DR. DAVID SATCHER, as well as representatives from GRIDIRON GREATS, the NFL PLAYER CARE FOUNDATION and NFL PLAYER ENGAGEMENT.
DR. SATCHER, the 16th Surgeon General of the United States and current director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at the Morehouse School of Medicine, will broaden his role with the NFL and serve as a mental health advisor. Dr. Satcher has conducted 14 mental health forums for NFL retired players and their families the past two years and will facilitate more events across the country.
The NFL TOTAL WELLNESS platform will help empower players to make positive health decisions; promote support-seeking behaviors in connection with behavioral and mental health issues; and provide health and safety education for players and all members of their support network, including spouses, parents, and children. The platform will expand on a number of NFL Player Engagement programs and service offerings.
Among the program’s services is NFL LIFE LINE, a new free, independent and confidential 24/7/365 phone consultation service and website developed and manned by third-party mental health professionals. NFL LIFE LINE provides support to all members of the NFL family in times of need and will be administrated by a group of national mental health experts that also operates a program for military service members with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
In an email today to more than 11,000 current and former players, plus club and league staff, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said: “There is no higher priority for the National Football League than the health and wellness of our players. Members of our community are not immune to the challenges that all individuals face. As we enter what promises to be a very exciting 2012 season, we stand by our commitment to the total wellness of our current and former players. This service is here for you.”
Leading the NFL TOTAL WELLNESS program will be NFL executives ROBERT GULLIVER and TROY VINCENT.
Gulliver, the NFL’s executive vice president of human resources/chief diversity officer, is a graduate of Cornell University and the Dartmouth College-Tuck School of Business. He held a similar position at Wells Fargo & Company before joining the NFL in 2010. During his tenure at the NFL, Gulliver has enhanced the NFL office’s employee assistance and career development programs.
Vincent, the vice president of NFL Player Engagement, is a five-time Pro Bowl cornerback and former president of the NFL Players Association (2004-2008). Vincent has run the NFL Player Engagement department since joining the league office in 2010. NFL Player Engagement will continue to provide players with advice, insight and practical tools to enable them to thrive at all points of their career development — as they enter the league, during their playing career and as they transition out of the game.
Gulliver and Vincent will establish an advisory board that will include former players and coaches and medical professionals. This board will assist in developing a training program for peer counselors and transition coaches.
Peer counselors and transition coaches will focus on post-career education/job training, special Player Engagement programs (Broadcast Boot Camp, Business Management and Entrepreneurial Program), medical and emotional needs, and providing information regarding benefit programs and assistance in obtaining benefits. In addition, players will learn about local alumni chapters, youth football, and other opportunities to stay involved in the game.
The NFL PLAYER CARE FOUNDATION, a 501 (c) (3) charity dedicated to improving the quality of life of former players, will build upon its national health screening program that provides cardiovascular and prostate evaluations to former players. Pro Football Hall of Fame member DICK BUTKUS will serve as an ambassador for the program, which stresses the importance of heart and prostate health care. The screening program annually visits10 NFL cities and has served more than 1,000 former players, and in a number of instances, provided lifesaving medical information. Dr. Satcher also will contribute to the program.
ABOUT NFL LIFE LINE
NFL LIFE LINE is a phone consultation and web-based service (www.NFLlifeline.org) for all members of the NFL family, including current and former NFL players, coaching personnel, NFL and team staff and their family members.
This free, independent and confidential resource was developed and will be administered by LINK2HEALTH SOLUTIONS and a coalition of leaders in the mental health area, including THE JED FOUNDATION.
The NFL is funding NFL LIFE LINE but will not play any role in administering the independent service. All calls and visits to the website will remain 100 percent confidential.
The site will include a variety of interactive features, including information on signs of a crisis, symptoms and care for common mental health problems and a list of available NFL programs to assist active and former NFL players and their families. The site also will have a self-assessment quiz and confidential online chat capabilities.
The site also features special video messages from NFL greats – including CRIS CARTER, BRETT FAVRE, MICHAEL IRVIN, JEVON KEARSE, MICHAEL STRAHAN, and HERSCHEL WALKER. The video pieces were filmed last month and include these players telling their fellow players that they are not alone and to utilize available resources to get help.
ABOUT DR. SATCHER and WELLNESS FORUMS
Building on the success of the past two years in which Dr. Satcher and the NFL conducted 14 seminars throughout the country, Dr. Satcher will host a series of free wellness forums in cities throughout the country where there are large clusters of NFL retired players and their family members. Dr. Satcher will provide an overview on mental health issues and also be available for private consultations.
In addition, Dr. Satcher will be featured in the NFL’s Player Engagement website, www.nflplayerengagement.com. He will participate in online webinars and provide information to keep retired players and their families informed and updated on mental health issues. He will consult with the NFL’s Player Engagement department and provide input on health programs and services.
ABOUT THE NFL PLAYER CARE FOUNDATION
The NFL Player Care Foundation (www.nflplayercare.com) was established as a 501( c) (3) charity in 2007 committed to improving the quality of life for the disadvantaged and distressed former players and supporting the funding of sports-related medical research. Since its inception, PCF has granted more than $2.8 million toward medical research that has funded the cardiovascular and prostate screening program and more than $4 million to qualifying former players with medical needs who are experiencing financial hardship.