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NFL players share good fortune during Thanksgiving week

Wins and losses won't be the only thing on the minds of many National Football League players during Thanksgiving weekend.

NFL players and teams will participate in numerous programs to help the less fortunate throughout Thanksgiving week. These efforts have become an annual NFL Thanksgiving and holiday tradition.

SAMPLING OF 2000 NFL THANKSGIVING OUTREACH

ARIZONA CARDINALS: Cardinals quarterback JAKE PLUMMER sponsored a charitable fund-raising spaghetti eating contest on November 13. All proceeds benefited Homeward Bound to serve Thanksgiving dinners to the homeless and less fortunate. Plummer was joined by running back MICHAEL PITTMAN, tackle L.J. SHELTON, tight end TERRY HARDY, guard LESTER HOLMES, tight end DAVE BROWN, guard CHRIS DISHMAN, tackle NORBERTO DAVIDDS-GARRIDO, wide receiver FRANK SANDERS, tight end CHRIS GEDNEY, and wide receiver DAVID BOSTON.

ATLANTA FALCONS: On Tuesday, November 14, Falcons wide receiver TERANCE MATHIS collected turkeys at Lenox Square Mall in preparation for the Thanksgiving holiday. The first 250 people who brought a frozen turkey to the event received a pair of tickets to the Falcons-Seahawks game on December 3. The turkeys will be donated to Mathis' charities, Central Fulton Senior Services and Sheltering Arms Child Development and Family Support.

BALTIMORE RAVENS: The Ravens will host their fifth annual Family Food Drive to benefit the Maryland Food Bank prior to their home game on November 19. Family members of Ravens players, coaches and staff will be on hand to greet fans as they enter PSINet Stadium. Fans can donate non-perishable food items and/or money. The Ravens are also teaming with Von Paris Moving & Storage and the Maryland Food Bank to assist in the collection. Defensive tackle SAM ADAMS will contribute $5,000 from the Sam Adams Earthquake Foundation to provide 30 families with Thanksgiving dinners. Tackle HARRY SWAYNE and Ravens Director of Player Development EARNEST BYNER will donate each $1,000 to assist to the Maryland Food Bank. Cornerback DUANE STARKS will purchase turkeys for distribution in Baltimore and his hometown of Miami, Florida.

BUFFALO BILLS: In partnership with United Parcel Service (UPS) and Wegmans food store, the Bills will deliver food to 200 families. Wegmans will match in food the amount of dollars raised by contributions from team owner Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. and members of the team. The players will be driven to their delivery destination aboard UPS trucks.

CAROLINA PANTHERS:The Panthers are partnering with Operation Blessing for the third year to host a holiday food distribution on Tuesday, November 21. In addition to 200 volunteers from Bank of America, Panthers players, wives, moms and cheerleaders will distribute 65,000 pounds of food and supplies to more than 2000 families in the Charlotte community. LINDA SEIFERT, wife of Head Coach GEORGE SEIFERT, and a dozen Panthers players, wives and moms will line up against hunger as the team hosts its third annual Tackle Hunger program. The community food distribution will take place on Tuesday, November 21 at the Salvation Army. Tight end WESLEY WALLS is donating turkeys for 130 seniors served through the Tackle Hunger program as well.

CHICAGO BEARS:The Chicago Bears will donate a holiday gift of $22,500 to the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless this year. The gift was arranged through Bears Care, the charitable arm of the Bears, and includes a 50 percent match from the Robert R. McCormick Tribune Foundation. Tackle BLAKE BROCKERMEYER, safety MIKE BROWN, quarterback CADE MC NOWN and wide receiver MARCUS ROBINSON will meet with children and mothers from the Coalition on Tuesday, November 21 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at the Rainforest Café in downtown Chicago.

CINCINNATI BENGALS:Through the Peter Warrick Foundation, Bengals wide receiver PETER WARRICK will distribute more than 150 food baskets in his hometown of Bradenton, Florida. The turkey giveaway will take place at the Bradenton Housing Authority and Community Center on Tuesday, November 21. Quarterback AKILI SMITH is purchasing turkeys for distribution to needy families in Cincinnati. Smith and his teammates, including halfback COREY DILLON, halfback BRANDON BENNETT, fullback CLIFF GROCE, cornerback CHARLES FISHER, free safety NICK WILLIAMS, defensive tackle OLIVER GIBSON, safety JOJUAN ARMOUR, wide receiver DAMON GRIFFIN, and cornerback RODNEY HEATH will pass out turkeys to those in need at the Freestore/Foodbank in Cincinnati.

CLEVELAND BROWNS:The Browns and Giant Eagle supermarkets will be tackling something other than football during the holiday season - Thanksgiving dinner. Browns players and staff will serve a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings to over 300 homeless Clevelanders at Harbor Light Complex, a Salvation Army program, on November 21. This year Harbor Light Complex celebrates its 50th year of offering assistance to those in need. Also on Thanksgiving, the Browns players and staff will team with the United Black Fund to distribute turkeys to needy families, senior citizens and persons with HIV/AIDS in the Fairfax Place and Senior Outreach Services organizations. The Browns will visit children during their hospital stays at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation Children's Hospital over the Thanksgiving holiday. Each child will receive a "Cleveland Browns Cheering You On" card and can pose for pictures with Browns player. The photo will be placed in a keepsake frame and autographed for each child.

DALLAS COWBOYS: For the fourth consecutive year, the Salvation Army and the Dallas Cowboys will celebrate the National Kettle Kick-Off holiday fundraising campaign during the halftime show of the Cowboys-Vikings Thanksgiving Day game. This year's halftime extravaganza will feature Dallas native and multi-platinum recording artist Jessica Simpson performing "I think I'm in Love" from her debut album Sweet Kisses. Twelve-year old Billy Gillman will also perform a special version of his platinum hit "One Voice." The Cowboys players and staff are actively involved with Salvation Army programs and services.

DENVER BRONCOS:In keeping with a more than 30-year tradition, the Broncos are once again involved in the "Daddy Bruce Thanksgiving" for 2000. The Broncos staff, coaches, alumni and current players, friends and families will spend a day sorting, boxing and delivering a ready-to-cook meal within the Denver area on November 18. This Thanksgiving outreach provided meals for more than 30,000 Denverites last year alone. The Broncos "Thanksgiving Turkey Giveaway" contributes over 200 turkeys to agencies such as the Denver Rescue Mission and Colorado Homeless Families.

DETROIT LIONS:On Thanksgiving Day, the Lions will host a halftime spectacular at the Silverdome saluting United Way and featuring the popular group BOYZ II MEN. Defensive linemen ROBERT PORCHER and TRACY SCROGGINS will distribute 500 turkeys to those in need in Detroit on November 17 through Focus: HOPE, a civil and human rights organization. After the game, linebacker ALLEN ALDRIDGE will serve Thanksgiving dinner at the Pontiac Rescue Mission soup kitchen and have dinner with area homeless people. Also on Thanksgiving Day, running back REUBEN DROUGHNS will serve Thanksgiving dinner at the Detroit Rescue Mission. The 10th annual Detroit Lions Coat Drive, initiated by Lions' equipment manager DAN JAROSHEWICH, will be held on November 23. Fans attending the 61st annual Thanksgiving Day game are asked to donate coats or blankets, which will be distributed by The Salvation Army. The Lion Ladies, wives of coaches and players, will also distribute Thanksgiving baskets to the Lighthouse in Pontiac.

GREEN BAY PACKERS:On November 21, safety DARREN SHARPER will host the third annual Darren Sharper Thanksgiving 2000 Kids Café. Sharper, along with other Packers players, will serve a traditional Thanksgiving dinner to children in the Milwaukee area and hopes to provide 500 meals to children this year. Quarterback BRETT FAVRE and his wife DEANNA will donate 50 Thanksgiving food baskets through the Brett Favre Foundation. The baskets will be distributed at the Salvation Army in Green Bay.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS:Owner of the Colts, JIM IRSAY, will accompany linebacker CORNELIUS BENNETT, defensive tackle JOSH WILLIAMS, defensive lineman BERNARD HOLSEY and defensive back DAVID MACKLIN to the Wheeler Mission, Indianapolis' largest downtown homeless shelter, to serve Thanksgiving dinner. The Colts Wives will donate food collected at last Sunday's game to the Salvation Army Food Pantry.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS:The Jaguars sixth Annual Holiday Food Drive concluded with record numbers for a game-day stadium collection on Nov. 12. Including donations from area Winn-Dixie food stores, more than 14 tons of non-perishable food items -- enough for approximately 18,700 meals -- were collected and distributed to more than 250 nonprofit agencies in northeast Florida. Jaguars players, wives and cheerleaders supported the drive with in-store appearances. Jaguars tight end KYLE BRADY and his wife, KRISTI, appeared in a television PSA to support the drive while kicker STEVE LINDSEY and his wife, KELI, voiced a radio PSA. Players who made store appearances included Lindsey, punter BRYAN BARKER and rookie safety ERIK OLSON. …Jaguars Operation Blessing 2000 will take place November 21 from 2:00-400 p.m. at A. Philip Randolph Park. Led by offensive tackle LEON SEARCY, the Jaguars, Operation Blessing International, Jaguars' players and wives, Jaguars' corporate partners and other local organizations, including the Florida National Guard and the Vision is Priceless Council, will conduct a holiday food distribution effort for more than 3,000 people in Jacksonville. More than 250 First Union and Florida National Guard volunteers will off-load two tractor-trailer trucks and distribute two free bags of mixed grocery products to local families. Campbell's will donate 3,000 cans of Chunky Soup. Visual acuity and glaucoma screenings will be available for children and adults who are at risk for eye disease. Blood pressure screening will also be offered. First Union will donate 1,000 new books and volunteers will read to children. In addition, seven area agencies that serve the disadvantaged throughout the First Coast region will pick up boxes of frozen turkeys donated by Jaguars' players and staff.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS:Cornerback JAMES HASTY, defensive tackle CHESTER MC GLOCKTON and linebacker DONNIE EDWARDS led a drive on behalf of DERRICK THOMAS' annual Third and Long Food Drive. Chiefs players, coaches and President CARL PETERSON donated more than $18,000 to feed more than 1,000 families on Thanksgiving. Tackle MARCUS SPEARS and his wife VONDERSHELL are sponsoring their first Thanksgiving Food Distribution on Saturday, November 18 through their "Still I Rise" foundation. They are donating 880 pre-packaged food boxes, hams and turkeys—enough to feed a family of four for one week. In addition, 2,000 cans of Campbell's soup and baby food are available for these families.

MIAMI DOLPHINS:The Dolphins will donate over 5,000 turkeys to the Daily Bread Food Bank this Thanksgiving. The donation is led by safety BROCK MARION, who each week donates $75 per tackle up until Thanksgiving (his current donation is 71 tackles for $5,325). The entire team, plus coaches and staff, made contributions for the team's annual turkey drive. Several Dolphins players will distribute the turkeys on Tuesday, November 21 to the Daily Bread Food Bank.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS:After their game at the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day, the Vikings return to Minneapolis to partner with the United Way to host a "Reason to be Thankful" celebration on Friday, November 24. Coach DENNIS GREEN will speak at the event and players participating include wide receiver CRIS CARTER, quarterback DAUNTE CULPEPPER, wide receiver RANDY MOSS, and defensive tackle JOHN RANDLE. On November 21, the Vikings will welcome children from the Minnesota chapter of the Make-A-Wish foundation to watch practice, tour Winter Park and meet players and coaches.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS:For the past 10 years, the New England Patriots have assisted the less fortunate during Thanksgiving by making a donation to the "Adopt-A-Family" Food Program run by Morgan Memorial/Goodwill in Boston. On Monday, November 20, several players will attend a special evening at Morgan Memorial/Goodwill in Boston to help distribute the food baskets and meet the families. Fans, players, cheerleaders, and staff are encouraged to bring food donations for Greater Boston Food Bank, and the Patriots have designated collection bins around the stadium. In addition, Campbell's Chunky Soup/NFL Tackling Hunger has donated 2,000 cans of Chunky soup to the Greater Boston Food Bank. For the second year, the New England Patriots Cheerleaders will visit the Morgan Memorial/Goodwill in Boston on Thanksgiving Day to help serve dinner.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS:The Saints are teaming with the United Way and Dyades YMCA in a "Thanksgiving Basket Giveaway" to provide more than 500 families with Thanksgiving meals on Tuesday, November 21.

NEW YORK GIANTS:Cornerback JASON SEHORN will host his second annual "Turkey Trot," a program in which he will deliver Thanksgiving dinner to 50 single-parent families in Elizabeth, NJ. The Giants will continue their tradition of donating 50 turkeys to the Center for Food Action in Englewood, NJ and players will make their annual visit to Eva's Kitchen on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Led by linebacker MIKE BARROW, players will serve lunch to 200 citizens in Patterson, New Jersey.

OAKLAND RAIDERS: Tackle MO COLLINS will attend the fourth annual McDonalds Thanksgiving Breakfast for underprivileged children on Thanksgiving Day. All players and staff will deliver 250 turkeys to the Alameda Food Bank on November 22.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS:Linebacker JASON GILDON will host a Thanksgiving dinner in Pittsburgh with Light of Life Ministries Family Assistance Program. The dinner is for homeless women and their children who have been adversely affected by drugs and alcohol. Additionally, running back JEROME BETTIS will host Bus Appetite, which provides homeless and underprivileged families with turkey dinners during Thanksgiving.

ST. LOUIS RAMS:For the sixth consecutive year, the Rams locker room and front office have pooled $10,000 to purchase more than 850 turkeys with all the trimmings at cost from Schnucks. On Tuesday, November 21, Rams players, including tackle ORLANDO PACE, wide receiver TONY HORNE, and running back ROBERT HOLCOMBE, will distribute the meals to Urban League Families at distribution sites in East St. Louis, St. Louis City, and North St. Louis County. Guard ORLANDO PACE also returned to his hometown of Sandusky, Ohio, Tuesday, November 14 to deliver 76 turkeys to various charities, including Volunteers of America and Victory Temple Soup Kitchen. The Rams offensive linemen, led by guard ADAM TIMMERMAN, are hosting the third annual "Linemen in Motion" on Wednesday, November 22 to serve a special Thanksgiving dinner for women and children of the Woman's Safe House, a battered women's shelter. In addition, running back MARSHALL FAULK will continue his tradition of personally delivering precooked turkey dinners to area families.

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS:As part of their ongoing efforts, defensive ends DARREN MICKELL and ADRIAN DINGLE will hit the streets to ensure that many homeless receive a hot meal on Thanksgiving Day. Linebacker JUNIOR SEAU and his wife will once again open their restaurant, Seau's, for Thanksgiving dinner to 400 residents of homeless shelters and victims of domestic violence. Running back TERRELL FLETCHER and safety RODNEY HARRISON will host a Thanksgiving meal at the College Avenue Baptist Church in east San Diego. Tight end REGGIE DAVIS and linebacker ORLANDO RUFF provide over 100 turkeys to families of the Jackie Robinson YMCA as part of the Chargers outreach into the community for Thanksgiving.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS:The 49ers promote the "Give Thanks, Give Life" program, the national campaign for organ donor awareness at their November 19 game against Atlanta. They will also conduct a canned food drive at the stadium before the game.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS:Seahawks players, cheerleaders and staff will serve a Thanksgiving lunch at the Seahawks Academy on Tuesday, November 21. This has become an annual event for the Seahawks since the Academy opened in 1997. On November 28, Seahawks players, cheerleaders and staff will participate in the Communities in Schools "First and Goal" luncheon at the Stadium Exhibition Center to honor more than 900 students in attendance.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS:Wide receiver KEYSHAWN JOHNSON will donate 400 turkeys and celebrate Thanksgiving with families who receive assistance from the Tampa Housing Authority and Tampa-Hillsborough Urban League. Linebacker DERRICK BROOKS will distribute 100 turkey dinners to families at two Boys and Girls Clubs in the Tampa area. Quarterback SHAUN KING will distribute 100 turkeys to local families. Running back WARRICK DUNN kicks off the fourth year of his "Homes for the Holidays" initiative in his hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. To help disadvantaged, single-mother families become first-time homeowners, Dunn makes down payments on new houses, then fills each home with necessities such as furniture, washers and dryers, and linens. Additionally, he stocks each kitchen with food, including a turkey and all the trimmings for Thanksgiving dinner. To date, he has helped 16 families purchase new homes. This year, Dunn will host a "Homes for the Holidays" reunion, bringing together mothers and children who received homes with help from his program. Dunn's grandmother, Willie Wheeler, will cook a Thanksgiving feast for the families and nearly 100 reunion guests. He will sponsor his "Homes for the Holidays" program and a similar reunion in the Tampa Bay area on Tuesday, December 12. The GLAZER FAMILY FOUNDATION conducted a food drive at the stadium before the Buccaneers game on November 12. Many other members of the Buccaneers will stuff and distribute food baskets at the Metropolitan Ministries, a temporary homeless shelter.

TENNESSEE TITANS:As part of NFL's "Give Thanks, Give Life" initiative, Titans Head Coach JEFF FISHER and U.S. Senator Bill Frist, a heart & lung transplant surgeon, taped a PSA encouraging all families to start a new winning tradition this Thanksgiving. Viewers are asked to discuss the gift of organ and tissue donation with their families this Thanksgiving. The spot will air during their November 19 game versus the Browns and the team will distribute 68,000 organ donation information cards to fans at the game. The Titans also holding a "Coats for Kids" drive at the game. Wide receiver YANCEY THIGPEN will hold his third annual "Edward Thigpen, Jr. Harvest of Love Thanksgiving Dinner" on November 22 in memory of his father, who passed away in 1998. Thigpen will be joined by many of his teammates, team staff and other friends to serve dinner to several hundred Nashville residents. Wide receiver CHRIS SANDERS and his wife STACIE will host a Thanksgiving luncheon November 21 for the 30 families they have helped move from homeless shelters into homes via the efforts of The Sanders Foundation. In addition to the lunch, The Sanders Foundation will also provide a new sofa for the families and a Kroger's Food Store gift certificate so that they may prepare their own Thanksgiving Day meal.

WASHINGTON REDSKINS:On November 21, linebacker EDDIE MASON and his wife SONYA will host their Faith Foundation's inaugural event, the Faith Harvest Outreach Thanksgiving dinner. Fellow Redskins players, staff, family and friends will join the Masons to serve dinner to residents of local homeless shelters in Herndon, Virginia.

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