USA NETWORK AND NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE TO LAUNCH EXPANDED “NFL CHARACTERS UNITE” PROGRAM, PRESENTED BY GMC, WITH STAR PLAYERS HELPING YOUNG PEOPLE TACKLE HATE, BULLYING AND DISCRIMINATION
New Weekly Vignette and Webisode Series Kicks Off Monday, December 2; Project Culminates with One-Hour Documentary Premiering on USA During Super Bowl Weekend
Other Participating NFL Players Include Victor Cruz, Mark Herzlich, Nick Mangold, Ray Rice, Charles Tillman, J.J. Watt and Dez Bryant
NEW YORK – November 21, 2013 – USA Network and the National Football League are expanding their annual collaboration on NFL CHARACTERS UNITE to include a new, weekly on-air vignette and webisode series on charactersunite.com launching on Monday, December 2. The initiative will culminate with the third annual NFL CHARACTERS UNITE one-hour documentary premiering Friday, January 31 at 7/6c on USA during Super Bowl XLVIII weekend. Part of USA’s award-winning Characters Unite public service campaign, the documentary — presented by GMC — profiles NFL stars as they share deeply personal stories of overcoming prejudice, bullying and discrimination, with the goal of helping young people who are currently facing similar challenges.
The series kicks off with Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb mentoring a teen boy named Tyson who is struggling, much like Cobb did growing up, with bullying and intense peer pressure to use drugs and commit crime. Cobb serves as a much-needed positive role model and encourages Tyson, through a volunteer project with Habitat for Humanity, to become a leader rather than a follower and stay committed to his dream of playing football.
“By sharing the profound stories of NFL players, we hope to inspire viewers to find the same strength and determination to combat hate and discrimination in their own lives and communities,” said Toby Graff, USA’s senior vice president, public affairs. “In this effort, we are honored to once again join forces with the NFL and we are grateful for the incredible support from GMC, a company that truly shares the values of Characters Unite.”
In addition to Cobb, NFL players featured in this year’s initiative include New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz and linebacker Mark Herzlich, New York Jets center Nick Mangold, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman, Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt and Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant. Through meaningful conversations and unique one-on-one confidence building activities, the NFL leaders, both on and off the field, open lines of communication, instill courage and help the kids they meet realize that they, too, can achieve greatness and should ‘Never Say Never’ to their dreams.
“Courage is not measured by how many hits you can take on a football field, it’s measured by what kind of character you show when you are confronted by your deepest fears. Each year I am reminded what real heroes look like when we spend time with the kids and the NFL players who are brave enough to face their greatest fears and share them with the world,” said Charlie Ebersol, executive producer and founder, The Company. “In the third installment of ‘NFL Characters Unite,’ we are proud to tell the stories of some of the bravest people I’ve ever met.”
The documentary, narrated by former NFL star and NBC Sunday Night Football Emmy®-winning sportscaster Cris Collinsworth, will feature more in-depth stories of the players and their experiences in meeting and mentoring the students. The one-hour special will serve as the launch of Characters Unite Month, a time when the network shines a bright spotlight on the importance of promoting greater tolerance, respect and acceptance.
“As fans across the country get ready to celebrate Super Bowl Sunday and the best of the NFL on the field, we are excited to also share these stories of great men off the field,” said Tracy Perlman, NFL vice president of entertainment marketing and promotions. “We are pleased to once again work with USA Network and The Company, and to have GMC join us, to tell these important stories.”
Sandra Moore, GMC’s director of marketing and advertising explained that the sponsorship is a great fit, “GMC partners with NFL Characters Unite because they share a lot of similar values. They share a common audience, as GMC is the Official Vehicle of the NFL, and they share deeply-held values and motivations to ‘Never Say Never.’ Whereas GMC engineers never say never to meeting a challenge when crafting their vehicles, the NFL stars featured in NFL Characters Unite embody the ‘Never Say Never’ spirit themselves in having overcome their adversity and will inspire teens to overcome their own, too.”
NFL CHARACTERS UNITE was created by The Company and is executive produced by Charlie Ebersol and produced and directed by Paul Pawlowski. For more information on CHARACTERS UNITE, visit charactersunite.com or usanetwork.com.
About Characters Unite: Characters Unite, USA Network’s award-winning public service program, was created to address the social injustices and cultural divides still prevalent in our society. Inspired by USA Network’s iconic “Characters Welcome” brand and with the support of leading national nonprofit organizations, the ongoing campaign is dedicated to supporting activities and messaging that combat prejudice and intolerance while promoting understanding and acceptance — on-air, online, and in communities across the country.
About USA Network: The #1 network in all of basic cable for an unprecedented seven straight years, USA Network is seen in over 102 million U.S. homes. USA is a leader in scripted programming with a powerful stable of originals, spectacular live television and is home to the best in blockbuster theatrical films, a broad portfolio of acquired series and entertainment events. A trailblazer in digital innovation and storytelling, USA is defining, driving and setting the industry standard for Social TV. USA is a program service of NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment, a division of NBCUniversal. The award-winning website is located at usanetwork.com. Characters Welcome.
About The Company: Founded in 2010 by entertainment industry veterans Charlie Ebersol and Mike Lanigan, The Company creates, packages and produces groundbreaking programming in the unscripted and scripted television as well as feature films. The Company’s library of programming spans a dynamic range of leading broadcast and cable networks, top movie studios, and unparalleled partnerships with big name sports and entertainment brands. Currently, The Company’s current programming includes the record-breaking CNBC hit “The Profit,” USA’s critically acclaimed “NFL Characters Unite,” REELZ Channel’s first-ever reality series “Race to the Scene” and a pilot for “We’re the Boss,” with Spike TV. Past credits include “The Moment” (USA Network), “The Great Escape” (TNT), “Off the Grid: Million Dollar Manhunt” (History), “The Wanted” (NBC) and many others. For more information, visit www.TheCo.com.
About GMC: GMC has manufactured trucks since 1902, with innovation and engineering excellence built into all GMC vehicles. The brand is evolving to offer more fuel-efficient trucks and crossovers, including the Terrain small SUV and Acadia crossover. GMC’s highest-volume vehicle, the Sierra pickup, is the most powerful light duty pickup on the market, and the first full-size pickup to receive the highest possible five-star Overall Vehicle Score for safety since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration changed its New Car Assessment Program for the 2011 model year. Details on all GMC models are available at http://www.gmc.com, on Twitter at @thisisgmc or at https://www.facebook.com/gmc.
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