Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice will be the first player featured during the upcoming season in USA's "NFL Characters Unite" campaign, the cable channel will announce later today.
Rice will also announce an expanded relationship between the NFL and USA at the upfront TV presentations in New York City later today.
Here's the release from USA:
“We are proud to expand the collaboration between Characters Unite and the National Football League. With the combined resources of the top cable network and the top professional sports league, we can exponentially increase the reach and impact of our shared effort to combat hate and bullying – two critical issues facing today’s youth,” said Toby Graff, USA’s Senior Vice President, Public Affairs. “The powerful and courageous stories of the NFL stars taking part will help to inspire greater respect, tolerance and acceptance.”
Each of the eight heart-warming and inspiring vignettes will profile a NFL star who serves as a role model, using his own experiences to mentor a young person who is experiencing similar prejudice and discrimination today. Among those featured will be Rice, Baltimore Ravens running back and Super Bowl XLVII champion, who will be tackling the problem of bullying and teen suicide in conjunction with his efforts through Ray Rice Charitable Fund.
The vignettes will be broadcast on-air, and viewers can delve deeper into the series online, where there will be even more background on the emotional stories behind each player and young person. The documentary will kick off Characters Unite Month in February 2014, a time when USA Network shines a brighter spotlight on the initiative and the importance of promoting greater respect and acceptance.
"We are pleased to continue working with Characters Unite to highlight the positive impact NFL players have on their communities," said Tracy Perlman, NFL Vice President of Entertainment Marketing and Promotions. "We look forward to working with USA Network and The Hochberg Ebersol Company to tell these important stories."
“Each year, it is one of our company’s great honors to produce ‘NFL Characters Unite,’” said executive producer Charlie Ebersol. “We are thrilled that USA Network, the NFL and its players will continue to truly inspire teens while giving viewers an often ignored first person depiction of the cycle of negativity that we all should be fighting to end with today’s youth