NFL Alumni Tackles Wellness Challenge AS Part of ‘Huddle Up: Let’s Talk Obesity’ Campaign

NFL alumni

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When pro football athletes hang up their cleats and close their lockers for good, the next challenge awaits: How to maintain a healthy body without the rigors of training sessions, games, and a necessary focus on diet.

In an effort to help the athletes transition to mere mortal lifestyles, Dr. Mehmet Oz, M.D., host of The Dr. Oz Show, cardiothoracic surgeon, and former Harvard University football player, is partnering with the NFL Alumni Association (NFLAA) to serve as Medical Advisor for its inaugural 2021 Wellness Challenge.

The NFL Alumni Wellness Challenge aims to inspire pro football greats to pursue a healthy lifestyle after their on-field career closes, and in turn inspire others to speak about obesity, seek help and take charge of their health.

What is the Challenge?

The Challenge consists of recruiting former professional football players from among the nonprofit’s 39 chapters to complete a six-month supervised testing, treatment, and training protocol tailored to each person’s unique health conditions. The competition begins with health analyses followed by pursuit of customized gameplans through Thanksgiving. Participants will be announced soon.

The Wellness Challenge is part of the NFLAA’s larger obesity awareness and education campaign, Huddle Up: Let’s Talk Obesity. The campaign was launched after a 2020 member survey indicated 52 percent of the NFLAA community live with obesity and 70 percent tried to lose weight in the past year, yet only a fraction of them think about their weight in this way. With Huddle Up, the NFLAA wants to remind members and fans to take charge of their health and that there is no one-size-fits-all goal or plan.

“Our Wellness Challenge helps each person focus on a positive path toward improved health with the support of medical experts, while creating a friendly competition among former players,” said Bart Oates, President of the NFL Alumni Association. Oates played center for the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers and was part of three Super Bowl-winning teams. “Professional football players endured years of intensive training to compete at the highest level. But, like all of us, they can benefit from post-career coaching to improve their health and quality of life for the long term.”

Dr. Oz stated, “Retired athletes share similar issues with most of us when it comes to weight management and personal health. This Wellness Challenge provides different paths based on each person’s goals. It’s important to remember there is hope, that resources are available and no one needs to travel alone on their personal journey to better long-term health.”

The medical team joining Dr. Oz includes Dr. Greg Natello, D.O., Cleveland Clinic-educated Functional Medicine, Internal Medicine and Cardiovascular Disease Board Certified Physician; Ilana Zablozki-Amir, M.D., Brooklyn Integrative Medicine; Michael Poon, M.D., Cardiovascular Physician, and; Robert Coben, Ph.D., Integrated Health Coaching.

These medical professionals will benchmark and track a range of health and psychological factors ranging from body analysis and cardiovascular screening to range-of-motion and sleep scoring as the 12 NFL Alumni members pursue nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle improvements over several months. Each player’s Wellness Challenge will be tailored to address their specific conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, excess weight and obesity, heart disease, and sleep apnea among others. The NFLAA hopes the Wellness Challenge shows others how managing your weight over time can lower the risk of life-threatening health complications and the importance of speaking with a healthcare provider in order to help create the best wellness game plan for you.

The Wellness Challenge and the larger Huddle Up: Let’s Talk Obesity campaign are made possible through the support of Novo Nordisk Inc.

“We know this will be a life-improving experience for the participants in the Wellness Challenge. Our intent is to share their stories in the spirit of motivating all NFL alumni and football fans everywhere to live a healthy and enjoyable life while having fun along the way,” said Oates.

About the NFL Alumni Association

The NFL Alumni Association was founded in 1967 and is the oldest and most recognizable national organization of retired athletes. NFL Alumni consists of former players, coaches, executives, spouses, cheerleaders and associate members. NFL Alumni’s dual mission is “Caring for Kids” by giving back to local youth charities through 39 chapters, and “Caring for Our Own” to serve members and their families. Alumni are offered a diverse package of wellness, business, career and legal services to help members be healthy, productive and connected. More information is at
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