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USA, NFL Expand 'Characters Unite' Collaboration

USA Network will once again team with the National Football League for the network’s “Characters Unite” anti-discrimination initiative.

The collaboration will kick off with a new series of vignettes that will air beginning in November and will culminate with the third annual NFL Characters Unite hour-long documentary debuting in February 2014 around Super Bowl XLVIII, said network officials. The weekly vignettes, which will feature Super Bowl champion Ray Rice and other players sharing personal stories of overcoming discrimination, will run on-air, online and in select stadiums around the nation, said USA Network.

Previous players who participated in NFL Characters Unite include Baltimore Ravens linebacker Jameel McClain; Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu; New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck; Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald; and Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez.

The series of vignettes will be offered as a sponsorship opportunity to marketing partners looking to align their brand to the important cause of promoting greater respect and acceptance, according to network officials.

“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 in a statement. “The powerful and courageous stories of the NFL stars taking part will help to inspire greater respect, tolerance and acceptance.”