NFL Teams Up With Female Football Star Sam Gordon To Tackle Cancer

At the age of nine, Samantha Gordon caught the NFL's attention when her football highlight tape went viral. Now, she's teaming up with the NFL and the American Cancer Society to help people catch cancer at an early stage with an annual initiative called Crucial Catch.
"Football really has the opportunity to bring people together and raise awareness," Gordon, now 16-years-old, said. "The NFL is such a big influence for people. I think raising awareness for cancer is such an amazing project to be a part of."
Gordon has been one of the unofficial female faces of the NFL since she made a cameo in their famous Super Bowl commercial last year to commemorate 100 years of the league. But her love of the sport and defiance of traditional gender roles goes back much further.
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"When I was little, I felt I could do anything," Gordon said. "[My parents] really taught me that I could go wherever I wanted to be. We didn't really have gender stereotypes in my house, which was amazing. I would go out and play football, my little brother would play dress up."
That attitude inspired Gordon to try out for the local boys football team after she started beating them in speed and agility drills. She played alongside the boys for a few years before founding the first known all-girls tackle football league in America, the Utah Girls Tackle Football League, in 2015. Although football for girls has come a long way, Gordon says she still struggles with plenty of naysayers.
"We're not trying to say that girls are better than guys and we're not trying to steal your sport from you, we just want the opportunity to play," Gordon said.
Gordon and her father are in the process of suing three different school districts in Utah for that very opportunity. They hope to achieve gender equality for the sport by ensuring that the schools offer girls football as a varsity sport.
"It was really just that idea that football is America’s number one sport," Gordon said. "It's the most popular sport and it's not offered to girls and there's not a good reason for that."
As the league expands its inclusion of women both on the sidelines and in the office, all eyes are on female game changers like Gordon. These women are also featured in a video series entitled Football is Female on our Instagram channel On Her Turf that celebrates women in sports.
The NFL’s Crucial Catch initiative runs the first week of October through week seven of the season and will highlight early detection of all cancers with branded game balls, equipment and ribbons. Since it began in 2009, the initiative has helped to raise more than $20 million for the American Cancer Society.
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