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August 11, 2014

Every year, Hispanic players are playing more of a role in the NFL. Following are some examples:

Buffalo linebacker KIKO ALONSO (right) helped announce a long-term partnership between the Bills and Independent Health in June, centered on a community-wide fitness and nutrition initiative to encourage healthy living. Alonso, along with other Bills players, interacted with more than 100 students from Buffalo Public School 18, participating in football training drills.

In a continued effort to make the next generation of youth active and healthy, the Bills and Independent Health will work together to support the children of the Buffalo community by encouraging physical activity and healthy eating in school and at home. The Independent Health Foundation’s Fitness for Kids Challenge and the Buffalo Bills’ Play 60 Challenge will be offered in collaboration to more local elementary school children during the 2014 season and will include both in-school programming and participation incentives for schools, teachers and students.

Bills tight end EVAN RODRIGUEZ took part in a charity bowling event in Union City, NJ to help raise money to help at-risk youth. Money raised from the bowling event will fund a mentoring program for at-risk youths run by the B-men organization in Perth Amboy and Plainfield.

I hope the kids will see someone to look up to,” says Rodriguez. They will know there is a community behind them to support them. I hope they learn to strive for their dreams because I came from the same area they came from. I want them to follow their dreams and never let anyone tell them they can’t do something.”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker JONATHAN CASILLAS (right) returned to his high school alma mater to host his first annual Forward Progress Youth Football Camp at New Brunswick High School in New Jersey this June. Casillas played football at New Brunswick High School, eventually becoming a First Team All-State player.

More than 200 students, grades six through 12, attended the free camp which focuses on enhancing life and football skills, while demonstrating how the two are connected.

“I’m trying to do as much as I can,” says Casillas. “This is something that I wanted to do a long time ago. I feel like it’s my right of passage to come back and talk to these kids. I think it’s my duty to do that. I’ve had the opportunity and the privilege to be in the position I’m in, and I think I need to do this. I think we need it as New Brunswick as a whole.”

The NFL has partnered with Pro Football Hall of Fame tackle ANTHONY MUÑOZ (below) for the third year to host NFL PLAY 60 Character Camps. The non-contact football camps will be hosted in NFL markets this summer. Each site will welcome 400 predominantly-Hispanic boys and girls ages 7-13 with little or no football experience. The program will also work in collaboration with USA Football and its NFL FLAG curriculum, which introduces children to football by teaching basic skills in a non-contact setting.

The NFL will celebrate HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH during Weeks 3 and 4 of the 2014 season. The NFL and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF) will again partner to present the NFL Hispanic Heritage Leadership Awards during the 2014 celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. The awards recognize the contributions of Hispanic leaders in each NFL market. A national spotlight will be shined on the NFL’s celebration during Thursday Night Football, Sunday Night Football and Monday Night Football. The Chicago Bears face the New York Jets in primetime on Monday, September 22, the New York Giants take on the Washington Redskins on Thursday, September 25 and the New Orleans Saints visit the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night, September 28.

The NFL’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month dates back to 2002 when then-Commissioner PAUL TAGLIABUE made it a league priority to serve the Hispanic market, forming an internal task force of league and club executives to analyze the NFL’s activities, consult with leaders in the Hispanic-American community, and recommend a comprehensive approach toward the future. The initiative has continued to grow annually since then.

A list of some of the 2014 Hispanic NFL players:

Kiko Alonso LB Buffalo

Matt Moore QB Miami

Javier Arenas CB

Atlanta Knowshon Moreno RB Miami

Jonathan Casillas LB Tampa Bay

Manuel Ramirez G Denver

Willie Colon T New York Jets

Mike Rivera LB New England

Victor Cruz WR New York Giants

Mychal Rivera TE Oakland

Brian de la Puente G Chicago

Evan Rodriguez TE Buffalo

Gavin Escobar TE Dallas

Tony Romo QB Dallas

Arian Foster RB Houston

Greg Salas WR New York Jets

Roberto Garza C Chicago

Mark Sanchez QB Philadelphia

Ziggy Hood DE Jacksonville

Andrew Sendejo S Minnesota

Rob Housler TE Arizona

Sean Smith CB Kansas City

Erik Lora WR Minnesota

Louis Vasquez G Denver

Miguel Maysonet RB Pittsburgh

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