Alot of what we do at NFL Films is “fun”, crafting heroic stories of grown men playing a kids game. Compared to hard news outlets dealing with war, death, and political issues, we are the gym teachers; we roll out the balls and give viewers a chance to escape real life. In a recently completed project called NFL Characters Unite (which debuts this Friday at 7 pm on USA Network), we were given the unique opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life.
The one hour show is part of USA Network’s campaign to stop hate and discrimination. We followed four NFL heroes – Hines Ward, Jimmy Graham, Tony Gonzalez, and Tony Dungy – as they shared their stories of being discriminated against with a young kid going through a similar situation. In each case, it was heartwarming to not only see each character display a genuine interest in making a difference, but to see the impact our time spent had on each kid’s life.
Following our day in Clairton, PA with Hines Ward and Carlton Dennis, Carlton said this was the “greatest day of his life”. Carlton had been discriminated against because of his Trinidadian heritage, a story that hit home with the half-Korean, half-African American Ward. After the two met and spoke, Hines helped Carlton write a song that Carlton later performed in front of the entire student body. Since then, Carlton has flown to Los Angeles to record a studio version of his song. The song, titled City of Prayer, is available on itunes. And this Friday, Carlton and Hines will appear together on the Today Show. Most importantly, Carlton now feels like a part of his community, and not like an outsider. The “greatest day of his life” may only be the beginning for Carlton, and hopefully for the others who took part in the show.
Go to charactersunite.com for more on the show, and to learn how you can get involved.
NFL Characters Unite debuts Friday at 7 pm on USA Network