Breast Cancer Prevention From the NFL Makes a Fan Outta Me

Jeanne Sager

Bradie JamesHey ladies, do you want to beat breast cancer? How about letting Bradie James show you the way? The NFL linebacker isn't the person I think of when I hear the words "breast cancer prevention." He's young. Tough. Sexy! But he made sure 4,500 women had mammograms last year with his Foundation 56.

Now that's a real sports hero and a really good man. So where are the rest of the guys? Not many of them are working the women's disease angle, that's for sure.

Take a look at the celebrity faces at your typical walk for cancer. The celebrity chair of next month's Avon Walk for Breast Cancer is the amazing Reese Witherspoon. She's a star for doing it, but she's another woman! You just don't see a lot of men crossing the aisle to take on the breast cancer mantle. Especially not young, virile men.

But seeing Bradie James out there working it for American women put something in perspective for me this week. The NFL remains the dominant sport in terms of marketing in America, and in recent years they've made a major effort to court the female fans. In 2010, they finally realized almost half of their fanbase was female. They started driving money into advertising campaigns to keep us watching.

They've already got our fanship. Now they can give something back, starting with a disease that affects more than a quarter of a million American women. We already have the NFL's "pink" shop, but how about something more? Put an athlete's face on it. Talk about it. When our athletes talk, America tends to listen. They have the forum, and they can work it however they want.

So let's tie them together. We ladies need more men with big fanbases working on the cause. They need more female fans. Win, win, right?

Why should they pick breast cancer? Because it's a disease that affects them TOO. The American Cancer Society estimated last year that 1,970 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed among men. And then there are the husbands, sons, brothers, uncles, and nephews of breast cancer patients. All those women know a man too.

That's where Bradie James comes in. The Dallas Cowboys star lost his mom Etta to breast cancer in 2002, when he was just a college sophomore, playing football at Louisiana State University. He's a solid example of how it hits men in the gut as well.

And since 2007, he's been the guy behind Foundation 56, giving women those free mammograms and providing survivors with support. Last year, 20 of the thousands of woman who were scanned for free thanks to James found out they had breast cancer and proceeded into treatment.

That's better than selling a few pink items. That's making a difference in the lives of real women. And as much as I loathe the Cowboys, it changed my opinion of him. I'm now a fan. If he can do that, every athlete out there who has yet to pick a cause can do it too. It may keep the ladies watching past the lockout.

Do you think swinging more male attention to a "female" cause can make a difference? Would more football players talking breast cancer make you a fan?


Image via Getty Images/Jeff Gross/Staff

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