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Originally published October 31 2015

The NFL's pink-crazed breast cancer blitz is a total sham, says critic

by J. D. Heyes

(NaturalNews) The National Football League (NFL) doesn't care at all about cancer, and its annual "Pink October" Cancer Awareness Month is nothing but a sham — at least, according to critic Jason Notte.

Notte, in his Market Watch article, says the league "cares as much about cancer as a cancer patient cares about NFL merchandise sales." More on that now.

For those who don't follow the NFL, the league has, for several years now, dedicated October (Weeks 5-8 — the meaty part of the season, most generally) to breast cancer awareness. The league, which has very strict uniform rules, allows players to wear pink uniform items — towels, head wraps, cleats, etc. — which are then donated to be sold, with a percentage of profits going to fund breast cancer research.

Not giving enough?

Notte, however, disputes the league's interest in cancer research — something he describes as a "gauze-thin veil" used to "justify the sale of pink merchandise and the auction of even costlier game-worn pink merchandise" (which true fans really don't mind paying).

"It's become such a brazen publicity stunt that each year, we're treated to a different story about how the NFL raises just about no money to increase cancer awareness, education or screenings," he writes.

Notte points out that, in 2013, ESPN's Darren Rovell reported via Twitter that the league "takes a 25 percent royalty from the wholesale price (1/2 retail) [and] donates 90 percent of [the] royalty to [the] American Cancer Society (ACS)."

According to Notte, that gives the ACS $11.25 for every $100 of pink merchandise sold, while 70 percent goes to fund cancer research programs.

But last year, he writes, Vice reported that the money raised by the league did not actually go to cancer research, but went to cancer screenings instead. Of course, many argue that screenings can save lives, but even the ACS has admitted that mammograms are not always the best way to detect breast cancer.

With that, Notte points out that the NFL's Pink October campaigns net only about $1.1 million every year since partnering with the ACS seven years ago. He complains that the amount is just "a fraction of the more than $10 billion the league made in revenue last year." He further adds that the amount raised does not even equal a half percent of the $226 million the league pays its 32 teams from television revenue each year.

Throwing pennies at a real problem

Notte continues his critique, saying:

"However, none of that indicates that the NFL actively ignores cancer. It just proves the league and its owners are cheap. No, to actively not care about cancer and its effects, it would have to openly exploit someone dying of cancer — say, former Carolina Panthers and current Pittsburgh Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams' mother, Sandra Hill. The Panthers brought Hill out for October breast cancer events in the past, but just about no one from the organization attended her funeral last year."

Notte also pointed out that the league — under the auspices of its strict uniform rules — denied Williams' request to wear pink all year and fined a different Pittsburgh Steelers player $6,000 recently after he wrote his father's name, who died of cancer in 2006, on his eye black (worn underneath the eyes during games to cut out glare). The player is appealing the ruling to the league.

"However, we'll note that not only is the NFL throwing pennies at the very real problem of breast cancer and not allowing players to draw attention to the disease outside the league's designated one-month breast-cancer zone, it's now actively preventing players from calling attention to various forms of cancer during that window," Notte wrote.

Critics, who argue against similar attempts by the media to paint the league in a negative light over its cancer donations, point out that the NFL doesn't even have to make cancer awareness an issue at all, and that even at about a million dollars a year, the League has already raised a pretty hefty amount for a single month.

You can read Notte's full column here.


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