(AP) — The NFL apparently underestimated Americans' eagerness to volunteer.
As part of its centennial season celebration, the league sought 100 million minutes of volunteerism from its fans through Huddle for 100. With folks across the nation giving 100 minutes of their time to community initiatives, that goal already has been reached.
“I am proud, but not surprised, that the NFL family rallied around Huddle for 100 and reached 100 million minutes of volunteerism with more than two months left in our 100th season,” Commissioner Roger Goodell says. “Fans, clubs, partners, players, and legends poured their hearts and souls into giving back to our communities. While this milestone is significant, our work does not stop here, as there is still plenty of opportunity to continue to make an impact this season.”
The league itself has run a series of Huddles, including at the draft in Nashville and during kickoff weekend in Chicago. Each of the 32 teams has gotten involved in such programs on a local level.
For example, the Baltimore Ravens partnered with United Way to host the biggest Huddle for 100 event to date. They staged “a day of action” with roughly 50 events and more than 22,000 participants throughout the community. The Ravens family collectively gave back more than 3.7 million minutes on that day, which involved such topics as enhancing education; fighting hunger; keeping up the environment; encouraging veterans; teaching safety measures; and health tips.
“It was a great experience with players and fans coming together to help positively impact our community,” Ravens cornerback Brandon Carr says. “That’s what it’s all about. That’s why we play this game of football, to bring this change and awareness to different causes that we all believe in. Huddle for 100 was a great opportunity for us to, once again, use this platform to showcase our passions, to get involved, make an impact in the community and help spread awareness.”
The Minnesota Vikings engaged US Bank, which has naming rights to their stadium, for a multi-year partnership focusing on season-long volunteer efforts. On every game day, US Bank Stadium hosts a dedicated volunteer station where fans can come together and give their time. Volunteer activities have included packing school supplies kits for youngsters, and laundry kits for a homeless shelter.
“The Huddle for 100 campaign is all about volunteerism and making our community a better place,” Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph said. “For me and my family, giving back has always been top of mind. This year it has been extra special to join the entire NFL family for Huddle for 100. Our holiday huddles for patients at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital are just a part of this national movement, but we are honored to rally our state, community, and team in doing our part.”
In Seattle, the Seahawks have worked with a number of local organizations to support their annual Days of Service. They began their Huddle initiatives by joining Windermere's Annual Community Service Day in June, when players helped build a playground for homeless youths at Mary’s Place.
“It was great,” says punter Michael Dickson. “I remember we were all pulling the weeds out of the garden and setting up the new playground for the kids there. Giving them a good space to be able to go home and have fun with the other kids there, it was exciting.”
The Seahawks also supported United Way Day of Caring Washington, when more than 10,000 volunteers contributed 2.1 million minutes. They took part in BECU's Day of Service in which 2,200 employees of the credit union and former Seahawks defensive back Marcus Trufant hosted financial literacy workshops for 10,000 local students.
“Having the platform that we have, we are in a very privileged position to be able to give back,” Dickson adds. “Doing so just makes you feel good. It kind of warms your heart and makes you want to give back more and more.”