American Diabetes Association Joins with Professional Football Players to Launch "Team Tackle" Initiative


Michelle Kirkwood

Washington, D.C.,
April 7, 2016

Team Tackle unites 45 current, former and upcoming professional football players to draw attention to diabetes, one of Americas leading chronic health crises

The American Diabetes Association (Association) today announced the launch of Team Tackle, an initiative that brings together 45 current, former and upcoming professional football players – representing all 32 professional teams in the country – with the Association to raise awareness of diabetes and prediabetes. Announced at a press conference on Capitol Hill as part of the Association's Capitol Hill Advocacy Day, Team Tackle will champion additional research, fair treatment and total wellness for all people living with diabetes, and provide hope for the millions of individuals and families who are living with diabetes or who are at risk.

Nearly 30 million Americans have diabetes, and an additional 86 million Americans have prediabetes, which puts them at greater risk for developing type 2 diabetes. People with diabetes are at significant risk for serious complications including kidney failure, heart disease, stroke, blindness and lower-limb amputations.

"For the past 20 years, diabetes has been America's fastest growing chronic disease. Diabetes touches everyone," said Kevin L. Hagan, CEO for the American Diabetes Association. "Team Tackle illustrates that no matter what team you normally cheer for, we are all together for the win when it comes to tackling diabetes. As public figures and professional athletes, the members of Team Tackle have a unique ability to reach people with diabetes and those who are at risk, and we are thrilled to have them involved in such an important cause."

Team Tackle members, as of today, include:

Sam Acho (Chicago)
Walt Aikens (Miami)
Lorenzo Alexander (Free agent)
Geno Atkins (Cincinnati)
Jeremiah Attaochu (San Diego)
Cliff Avril (Seattle)
Duane Brown (Houston)
Bruce Carter (New York)
Ryan Clady (Denver)
Ross Cockrell (Pittsburgh)
Andrew DePaola (Tampa Bay)
Tayo Fabuluje (Chicago)
Obum Gwacham (New Orleans)
Jordan Hicks (Philadelphia)
Dont'a Hightower (New England)
Ziggy Hood (Washington)
Jelani Jenkins (Miami)
Rashad Jennings (New York)
Datone Jones (Green Bay)
Ricky Lumpkin (Indianapolis)
Bradley Marquez (Los Angeles)
Marcus Martin (San Francisco)
Sam Martin (Detroit)
Dee Milliner (New York)
Aaron Murray (Kansas City)
Cordarrelle Patterson (Minnesota)
Terrance Plummer (Minnesota)
Hayes Pullard (Jacksonville)
Shane Ray (Denver)
Frostee Rucker (Arizona)
Za'Darius Smith (Baltimore)
Jacob Tamme (Atlanta)
Randall Telfer (Cleveland)
Cedric Thornton (Dallas)
Joe Webb (Carolina)
Dan Williams (Oakland)
Avery Williamson (Tennessee)

Brendon Ayanbadejo (Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Miami)
Femi Ayanbadejo, Sr. (Minnesota, Baltimore, Miami, Arizona, Chicago)
Drayton Florence (San Diego, Buffalo, Denver, Detroit, Carolina, Jacksonville)
Akbar Gbajabiamila (San Diego, Miami, Oakland)
Mike Golic (Houston, Philadelphia, Miami)
Matthew Hatchette (Minnesota, New York, Jacksonville)

Reggie Ragland (Alabama
Eric Striker (Oklahoma)

"Diabetes is a disease that is very close to my heart because it has affected my family for a long time; both my mother and my grandmother have type 2 diabetes, and they have faced numerous challenges and complications as a result," said Duane Brown (Houston), team captain for Team Tackle. "I am proud and inspired to have so many of my professional football colleagues—current, former and future—participating in Team Tackle. Together with the American Diabetes Association, we can help increase attention for diabetes and its serious complications."

During today's press conference, Team Tackle members Mike Golic (sports commentator and former player for Houston, Philadelphia and Miami), Dont'a Hightower (New England) and Lorenzo Alexander (free agent) shared their personal connections to diabetes, and their commitment to raising awareness about diabetes through the Team Tackle initiative. A total of 34 Team Tackle members are joining advocates from around the country to meet with Members of Congress today in Washington. The advocates will be addressing the importance of increased funding for critical diabetes research and programs at the National Institute of Health's National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Diabetes Translation and National Diabetes Prevention Program.

This afternoon, the Association and Team Tackle will participate in panel discussions at the White House as part of an event that will examine the current state of diabetes prevention, research and treatment efforts. Team Tackle speakers will include Rashad Jennings (New York), Aaron Murray (Kansas City) and Sam Acho (Chicago), and Association speakers will include Hagan, Robin Richardson, chair of the Board for the Association, and Gina Gavlak, chair of the National Advocacy Committee for the Association. The event will be livestreamed from 2:00-4:30 p.m. EDT at

As part of today's launch, Team Tackle is asking the country to support children with diabetes in gaining the skills and confidence they need to manage the disease by sending them to summer camp. The team will seek support for 320 kids to attend an American Diabetes Association Diabetes Camps, which welcome children with type 1 diabetes and those who are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Association Diabetes Camps provide children the opportunity to participate in traditional camp activities while learning healthy lifestyle habits—nutrition, fitness and diabetes management skills. Health care professionals oversee daily diabetes care and help campers learn to live successfully with their disease, and campers have the opportunity to form lifelong friendships at diabetes camp.

Team Tackle members also will participate in various national and local Association events around the country.

About the American Diabetes Association

Nearly half of American adults have diabetes or prediabetes; more than 30 million adults and children have diabetes; and every 21 seconds, another individual is diagnosed with diabetes in the U.S. Founded in 1940, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) is the nation’s leading voluntary health organization whose mission is to prevent and cure diabetes, and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. The ADA drives discovery by funding research to treat, manage and prevent all types of diabetes, as well as to search for cures; raises voice to the urgency of the diabetes epidemic; and works to safeguard policies and programs that protect people with diabetes. In addition, the ADA supports people living with diabetes, those at risk of developing diabetes, and the health care professionals who serve them through information and programs that can improve health outcomes and quality of life. For more information, please call the ADA at 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383) or visit Information from both of these sources is available in English and Spanish. Find us on Facebook (American Diabetes Association), Twitter (@AmDiabetesAssn) and Instagram (@AmDiabetesAssn)