Pro Football Hall of Fame honored for wellness progras


The Pro Football Hall of Fame is being honored by the National Minority Quality Forum (NMQF) with its Booker T. Washington Award in a ceremony in Washington on Monday.

The Booker T. Washington Award recognizes an individual or organization that has made an outstanding contribution to the promotion of wellness in emerging populations.

Hall of Fame programming related to promoting physical, mental and emotional health includes its “Strong Youth Strong Communities” outreach. That initiative connects Hall of Fame members with youth across the country in a partnership with national health care provider Centene Corp.

Recently, dozens of Hall of Famers issued inspirational and hope-filled messages during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Strong Youth Strong Community programs are part of the hall’s #HuddleUpAmerica initiative, which is designed to bring people together of all races, religions and ethnicities,” notes David Baker, the Hall of Fame’s president/CEO. “Now is the time for all of America to ‘huddle up’ to help each other and love each other.

“Booker T. Washington and this award in his name represent the spirit and hope that if we can huddle up and learn to trust each other, then there is no limit to what we can accomplish together.”

Four Hall of Famers — Darrel Green Anthony Munoz, Aeneas Williams and Andre Tippett — last week were part of a Strong Young Strong Community session with students in New Hampshire that focused on suicide prevention and the message “#YouAreNotAlone.”

“For the Hall of Fame, there is an important role that we can play in building healthier and stronger communities across the nation,” Green says. “Through our partnership with Centene, we are making considerable progress, and we are humbled by the recognition from NMQF.”

Booker T. Washington started the National Negro Health Week in 1915. From 1921-53, NNHW was a program supported by the Public Health Service. By partnering with Congress and the White House, NMQF started National Minority Health Month in 1988 as a successor of NNHW.

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PRESENT AT THE CREATION

That’s the title of Upton Bell’s latest book, and the son of the NFL’s commissioner from 1946-59, Bert Bell, isn’t exaggerating. He has seen the league develop in popularity from being behind baseball, college football, boxing and even horse racing in America to, hands down, the top sport in this country.

Bell delves into just about every aspect of pro football in his book, co-written with Ron Borges. Among his most fascinating takes is on scouting, which during the coronavirus pandemic has become a more difficult and limited process.

Still, as Bell argues, it’s all about what the beholder, well, beholds.

“I believe nothing has changed in player evaluation but the technology,” he writes. “You get the information quicker, but that doesn’t make you a better talent evaluator. You either have the ability to look at somebody and see that he can play or you don’t. I don’t care where you come from.

“To scout effectively, you need the long memory of a historian and the short memory of a great relief pitcher. Why? Long memory is when you are standing there and somebody says that players isn’t as good as so-and-so. You have to remember that player and all the things you didn’t put in his report but that are still in your mind so you can use them for comparison purposes. …

“Short memory is a must because you must quickly erase your mistakes and move on. You can’t dwell on the criticism. If you can’t do that, turn in your pen, stopwatch and reports. You’re finished.”

Finishing the reading of Bell’s book leave you wanting more.

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NEW PANTHERS TRADITION

The Panthers started a “sweet” new tradition after wins, courtesy of special teams assistant coach Ed Foley.

Foley led Panthers players in singing a verse from Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” in the locker room after Carolina held on to beat the Chargers 21-16 last Sunday to give new coach Matt Rhule his first win.

This is nothing new for the 52-year-old Foley.

Foley, who served on Rhule’s staff at Temple and Baylor, led the Bears in the locker room singing Frank Sinatra’s “High Hopes” in past years.

“That’s Ed,” Rhule said with a laugh. “He’s one of the great personalities in football.”

The Panthers regularly play “Sweet Caroline” at Bank of America Stadium after victories.

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GAME HUNTING

Zach Sieler chases down quarterbacks and running backs for a living, and on the side he hunts wild hogs and alligators.

The Miami Dolphins defensive tackle has a central Florida business that advertises itself as largest free-range, private land gator hunting outfitter in the state.

“We’ve gotten multiple players out there coming to hunt with us,” Sieler says. “A lot of them have never shot a gun before. We really take you hands on, show you how to shoot, all that kind of stuff.”

Dolphins teammate Michael Deiter, Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and Vikings defensive tackle Michael Pierce are among the NFL players who have joined Sieler on the range.

“If you’re going out at night with the hogs and you can’t see anything,” Sieler said, “and all you can hear is just stuff all around you, or when we brought in a 14-foot alligator, that’s been kind of thrilling to say the least.”

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TRAVEL PLANS:

The New York Giants are changing their travel plans for cross-country trips under new coach Joe Judge.

The team used to travel late Friday for a Sunday game on the West Coast. For Sunday’s game against the Rams in Los Angeles, they plan to leave early Saturday.

“We’re going to get out there early, get our guys in the sunlight for a little bit, kind of get them in the UV rays, which should help reset their body clocks a little bit,” Judge said. “Being as though it’s not a prime-time game at night, it’s less than 24 hours of a trip for us. It shouldn’t affect us overly in terms of that window we’re going in there. We’re going to go ahead and stay in East Coast time as much as we can, and wake up the next day ready to play.”

The return trip is going to be different, too. They team is staying in LA on Sunday night and flying home Monday so the players get a good night’s rest.

“We’ll get the film graded that night, watch with the players the next morning and get that all cleaned up,” said Judge, who added the coaches will work on the trip back on plans for the Cowboys in Dallas next weekend.

Judge changed the schedule to keep his players as free as possible. He said he spoke with other coaches about their approach to cross-country trips.

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AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner and Sports Writers Steven Wine, Steve Reed and Tom Canavan contributed.

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