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Warriors Unite: Mike Ditka & the Gridiron Greats Form Partnership to Assist Retired NFL Players & U.S. Military Special Operations Personnel

Super Bowl Week Kick Initiative with over 100 NFL Legends Announced

TAMPA, Fla., Nov. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Mike Ditka's Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund (GGAF) today announced an unprecedented humanitarian initiative to assist retired NFL Players in dire need while simultaneously supporting U.S. Military Special Operations personnel and their families through the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. The organizations announced the partnership today and unveiled a Gridiron Greats Super Bowl week initiative at a press conference featuring several NFL greats, including NFL Hall-of-Famers Mike Ditka, Gale Sayers, Jack Youngblood and Jim Kiick, as well as Colonel John T. Carney Jr., (Ret) of the United States Air Force.

The groundbreaking partnership between Gridiron Greats and the Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF) will raise awareness and funds for the less fortunate members of both their communities: NFL pioneers and recently retired NFL players who have financial and medical needs that are not being provided for by the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) and the NFL; and the children of Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps special operations personnel who lost a parent in combat or training.

The partnership will launch during a series of Gridiron Greats events in Tampa during Super Bowl week January 28-31, 2009 that will bring together an unprecedented group of over 100 NFL legends. This will be the largest humanitarian project to date to assist retired players. Some of the NFL Greats who will participate include: Mike Ditka, Gale Sayers, Marv Levy, Daryl Johnston, Jack Youngblood, Michael Irvin, Ron Jaworski, Mike Golic, Larry Little, Vinnie Testaverde, Paul Hornung, Jim Kiick, Jim McMahon, Tony Dorsett, Eric Dickerson, Keyshawn Johnson and many others.

Mike Ditka also announced that the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Tampa has partnered with the Gridiron Greats and will be the headquarters for these exciting events. Highlights of the week will include the Dinner Of Champions hosted by Bob Costas featuring NFL legends spanning the generations at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, DA Coaches Golf Classic, Gridiron Greats Autograph Extravaganza, and the Celebrity Sporting Clay event, which will feature a real world "shoot house" event and demo with Special Ops experts. A complete schedule of events and participate list is available at

In addition, a donation drive and massive online auction featuring one-of-a-kind, personal artifacts from hundreds of NFL greats will run from Jan. 27 through Feb. 5.

"Both the special operations community and the Gridiron Greats share a bond of brotherhood like no other," said Ditka, board member of the GGAF. "It is with this strong sense of spirit that retired professional football players and special operations vow to take care of their own and have formed this very special relationship".

"Even in these troubled times and in spite of many of the Gridiron Greats having their own dire needs, these players are reaching out to support their own but also the SOWF. We are confident that a significant amount of funds and awareness will be raised for both organizations," said Jennifer Smith, executive director, Gridiron Greats.

"The actions of the Gridiron Greats speaks volumes about their character -- these football players are heroes to the children of our fallen warriors by ensuring they receive the college education their parents would have wanted for them," said Carney, Jr. "We hope that through awareness generated through the Gridiron Greats and the Special Operations Warrior Foundation that they will no longer be forgotten."

All of the aforementioned events are open to the public and tickets are on sale and an online donation drive is underway for now at or by calling 1-800-708-1078.

About Gridiron Greats

The Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund is an IRS Section 501(c)(3), charitable and humanitarian organization that provides financial aid and social and medical services to retired NFL players who are in dire need. The organization is overseen by Mike Ditka and a Board of Directors that include: Gale Sayers, Kyle Turley, several professionals, and an advisory committee including Harry Carson, Michael Irvin, Daryl Johnston, Matt Birk and others. There are over 150 retired players and coaches who support GGAF efforts through various initiatives. Also, a multi-million dollar pro bono medical services program was recently implemented. Most of the needs of the players are created by an inadequate disability and medical system and/or player's, pension program, as well as a lack of attention paid to the issues retired players face post career and their needs.

About Special Operations Warrior Foundation

For more than 28 years, the Special Operations Warrior Foundation has provided college scholarship grants (not loans) to surviving children of Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps special operations personnel killed in combat or training missions. SOWF provides funds for tuition, books, fees, room and board. The SOWF also provides immediate financial assistance to special operations personnel severely wounded in combat. For additional information visit online at

SOURCE Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund
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