It's one of my favorite commercials on television: Catchy music with an inspiring, driving beat is playing while images of tough-looking football players riding a bus flash across the screen.
They seem to be in pregame concentration mode: headphones in ears, eyes staring straight ahead. Cut to children tapping their feet and patting their hands on their seats riding what looks to be another bus ... perhaps bound for a showdown.
The commercial ends with the NFL players meeting the kids for what looks like a day of fun, running around the football field together.
The spot is designed to promote the "NFL PLAY 60" campaign, committed to "making the next generation of youth the most active and healthy."
The 5-year-old program was launched in an effort to combat childhood obesity by encouraging youth to be active for one hour (60 minutes) each day.
The number of overweight children in the U.S. is troubling. For a generation of kids who have grown up on fast food and video games, it's becoming harder and harder to live a healthy lifestyle. Bad habits created in childhood can lead to dangerous health issues later on, including diabetes and heart disease.
The NFL PLAY 60 program reaches out to kids while they are forming those all-important eating and exercise regimes through their heroes: NFL superstars. The image of Drew Brees surrounded by excited children comes to mind.
In addition to committing $200 million dollars to the campaign to date, the NFL relies on individual teams to participate in their own local communities.
With partners like the American Heart Association, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and NFL teams across the country, the effort offers in-school and after-school programs, as well as events and contests in conjunction with major NFL events like the draft and Pro Bowl. Last weekend's all-star game in Hawaii was a venue to honor national Punt, Pass and Kick contest winners. Flag football programs and game suggestions are also available through the program.
This weekend's Super Bowl is another major marketing opportunity for the NFL PLAY 60 campaign. Through the internet, Facebook, TV and other media, the league issues the constant reminder that kids need exercise; at the same time, they provide an array of events, suggestions for activities, and even volunteering opportunities, not to mention the program's own line of apparel.
Ironically, the sport that inspires huge food-and-drink parties riddled with nachos, Buffalo wings and chips-and-dip can also be a vehicle for inspiring children to get up and get moving.
It's easy to criticize pro football for what seems like gluttonous behavior, with exorbitantly-paid athletes and extreme actions both on and off the field. But give credit to the league for trying to make exercise fun and caring about the next generation of football fans.
Kellie Goodman Shaffer can be reached at Kellie@BedfordCountyChamber.org. Her column appears on Tuesdays.