In the lead up to the Dallas Cowboys–Tampa Bay Buccaneers kickoff in Tampa on September 9, the NFL will host a series of community and service events to celebrate the start of the league's long-awaited 2021 regular season.
From local efforts to fighting hunger, events that honor military members and community greening projects, the NFL will unite and strengthen the community by leaving a lasting, positive impact on Tampa and the surrounding areas.
As a follow-up event to Super Bowl LV, the NFL will start Kickoff week by celebrating the passing of the golden shovel from Tampa to Los Angeles, which furthers its dedication to sustainability across the country. As a part of this, NFL Green will work alongside Verizon, Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful, The Tampa Bay Estuary Program and the Tampa Bay Sports Commission to restore and plant sand dunes on Picnic Island.
Following the passing of the golden shovel, the NFL will make the Tampa community greener by building and installing hydroponic and pollinator gardens at Forest Hills Park community center.
To close out the week, NFL Green will be joining Force Blue, Pepsi Stronger Together, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, NAUI, Keep Florida Beautiful and The Florida Aquarium for a marine debris and ghost fishing gear removal operation and a pier cleanup at Anna Maria Island.
The Inspire Change Huddle Legacy event will honor the league's commitment to help close the digital divide. This event acts as a continuation of the Inspire Change Legacy Grant Program which was launched during the 2021 Draft week. As part of this program, the NFL Foundation and Cisco are each donating $75,000, totaling $150,000, to Safe & Sound Hillsborough. This donation will help fund technology infrastructure at the reporting center and support online STEM curriculum for youth.
The NFL will also work with the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay and The Spring of Tampa Bay, dropping off backpacks full of school supplies, allowing both organizations to directly support families in the community.
To honor military members and their families, the NFL, Tampa Bay Sports Commission and Force Blue will host a Salute to Service event to share the documentary, 100 Yards of Hope, with hundreds of Tampa Bay service members. The film focuses on the collective partnership between the NFL, special operations military divers, scientists and natural resource managers who came together to restore a football field-sized coral reef for Super Bowl LIV and LV.
The NFL and the United Service Organizations will also host an event inside of the NFL Kickoff Experience that invites fans to prepare care packages for service members.
Ahead of Kickoff on Thursday, September 9, the NFL will work with Feeding Tampa Bay (FTB) to host two Huddle to Tackle Hunger Kickoff Events. This builds upon the initial program that was launched at Super Bowl LV where the NFL Foundation made a $250,000 donation to FTB to combat food insecurity in the region, an issue that has been exacerbated by the pandemic. The events will be hosted at FTB's Trinity Café locations, as a part of FTB's daily commitment to serve food to those in need. NFL Legends will be on-site to help hand out healthy meals as well as NFL-branded merchandise.
The league continues to work closely with the CDC and local Tampa health officials on all 2021 Kickoff events to ensure we are providing an experience that is as safe and successful as possible for the local community and its many visitors.
OVERVIEW OF KICKOFF WEEK EVENTS
An overview of each event is listed below with full details.
NFL Green Golden Shovel Pass: Thursday, September 2, 8-11am ET, Picnic Island
As a follow-up event to Super Bowl LV, the passing of the golden shovel from Tampa to Los Angeles will occur on September 2. Volunteers will restore and plant sand dunes on Picnic Island to help prevent erosion and protect against storm damage. This project closes the loop on the location where the NFL began greening efforts leading up to Super Bowl LV. Partners Verizon, Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful, the Tampa Bay Estuary Program and the Tampa Bay Sports Commission will also assist in the activities.
Huddle for Change: Racial Equity & Mental Health: Tuesday, September 7, 4-6pm ET, Hybrid Event; In-person portion will take place at Firestick Grill at Amalie Arena
Huddle for Change is a partnership between the Super Bowl LV Host Committee, NFL Inspire Change, the University of South Florida, and Community Tampa Bay to welcome community members and local leaders to participate in an open and honest discussion about systemic racism and racial inequalities. Community Tampa Bay will discuss data findings, their own lived experiences, and tangible action steps our community can implement to eliminate systemic injustices.
Inspire Change Huddle Legacy Event: Tuesday, September 7, 5:30-7pm ET, Safe & Sound Hillsborough-Kings Forest Recreation Center, 8008 E Chelsea St, Tampa, FL 33610
The NFL Foundation and Cisco, an official technology partner of the NFL, will host an event with Safe & Sound Hillsborough to address the digital divide as a continuation of the Inspire Change Huddle Legacy Grant program launched during 2021 Draft week. The NFL Foundation and Cisco are each donating $75,000, totaling $150,000, to support tech upgrades, infrastructure improvements, and enhanced programming for Safe & Sound Hillsborough's reporting center to empower the young men they serve. Representatives from the NFL, along with NFL Legends, will take part in a one hour curriculum which includes STEM curriculum and peer-to-peer engagement.
Salute to Service Event: Tuesday, September 7, 7pm ET, Tampa Theater (doors open at 6:30pm to invited guests and media)
To honor military members and their families, the NFL, Tampa Bay Sports Commission and Force Blue will host a Salute to Service event to share the documentary 100 Yards of Hope with hundreds of Tampa Bay service men and women. The film focuses on the unique partnership between the NFL, special operations military divers, scientists and natural resource managers who came together to restore a football field-sized coral reef for Super Bowl LIV and LV.
NFL Green Gardens: Wednesday, September 8, 8-11am ET, Forest Hills Park Community Center
In partnership with Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful, Verizon and the Tampa Bay Sports Commission, the NFL will build and install hydroponic and pollinator gardens at Forest Hills Park community center.
Huddle to Tackle Hunger Kickoff Event: Thursday, September 9, 11:30am – 1:30pm ET, Two Trinity Café locations (2801 N. Nebraska Ave. and 2202 E. Busch Blvd.)
The NFL and FTB will host a community event during NFL Kickoff Week in Tampa, bringing the excitement of NFL Kickoff directly to those in FTB's care. Both Trinity Café locations are serving meals daily, with a choice of tableside or drive-thru, supporting those seeking a complimentary hot and healthy, chef-prepared meal. As part of the Huddle to Tackle Hunger program, original partner Pipo's will be providing additional "meals on the go" at both locations. NFL partners Campbell's® Chunky®, Frito Lay and Pepsi will also provide products to guests onsite. Guests will also receive NFL-branded merchandise.
Marine Debris and Pier Cleanup: Friday, September 10, 9am – 2pm ET, Anna Maria City Pier Landmark, Anna Maria Island (just south of Tampa)
NFL Green is joining Force Blue, Pepsi Stronger Together, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, NAUI, Keep Florida Beautiful and The Florida Aquarium for a marine debris and ghost fishing gear removal operation and pier cleanup at Anna Maria Island. Local volunteers will join divers from Force Blue who will handle the underwater portion of this community cleanup.
VIRTUAL COMMUNITY EVENTS
Character Playbook 2021 Kickoff Event: Tuesday, September 7, 1pm ET, Zoom
The start to the 2021 school year brings a new set of opportunities and challenges. The NFL/United Way Character Playbook program kicks off the year with NFL Legend host Dhani Jones, Bengals Legend and NFL Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz, and Jeremy "Freddie Falcon" Legg as they help high-school students explore how to stay mentally tough through transitions and how to be a positive part of any community. Funded by the NFL Foundation and United Way Worldwide, Character Playbook is a digital education resource that supports positive character development, social emotional learning, mental wellness and healthy relationships in middle- and high-school students. The Healthy Relationships program is available nationally to middle-school students, while Mental Wellness Basics reaches 160 high schools across the country, all free of charge.