Athletes From 14 Sports Leagues Honor Their Healthcare Heroes in Sweeping PSA
If you're a doctor or nurse serving on the front lines of the pandemic, you're a real hero—and some of the biggest names in sports want to show their appreciation by giving you the shirts off their backs.
In the two-minute PSA below, wrestler John Cena, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, tennis champ Coco Gauff, hockey immortal Wayne Gretzky, Yankees slugger Aaron Judge and others thank medical professionals for risking their lives in the war against Covid-19.
To do so, each athlete covers the name on his or her uniform, replacing it with the name of a healthcare hero:
Stars from 14 professional and esports leagues appear in "The Real Heroes Project," honoring more than 30 medical workers. The PSA launches today—National Nurses Day—across league and team assets.
Athletes will also share thank-yous using the hashtag #TheRealHeroes…
Join me and the world of sports this Wednesday, National Nurse Day, as we honor the frontline healthcare heroes who inspire us. Make a “jersey” in their honor and tag it with #TheRealHeroes pic.twitter.com/nJ3vQuhiok— Wayne Gretzky (@WayneGretzky) May 4, 2020
I proudly dedicate this jersey to all of Canada’s Frontline Workers. On behalf of the @NHL and all the fans, thank you for keeping us safe. You are #TheRealHeroes. Show some love to a healthcare hero you know by making a jersey in their honor and sharing it using #TheRealHeroes. pic.twitter.com/8v79DQ9uBM— Hayley Wickenheiser (@wick_22) May 6, 2020
… and they also invites fans on social to "dedicate" their sports jerseys to a front-line individual of their choice.
In addition to 72andSunny and various franchise CMOs—with the NFL's Tim Ellis serving as point person—production company Hencho Studios and trade publication Adweek shepherded the collaborative effort.
"The sports marketing world has never come together for an effort like this before," Ellis tells Adweek. "If not now, when?"
Having athletes replace their own names with those of doctors and nurses felt like "the ultimate honor" these stars could bestow, Ellis says. "And it's clear and compelling and felt unique."
Here's a complete list of all those involved:
Activision Blizzard Esports
Esports athletes Seth "Scump" Abner of Call of Duty League, Li "Liooon" Xiaomeng of Hearthstone Esports, and Matthew "Super" DeLisi of Overwatch League
Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP)
Professional doubles tennis players, and most successful duo of all time, Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan
Electronic Arts (EA)
Reigning FIFA eWorld Cup Champion Mohammed "MoAuba" Harkous, 2018 FIFA eWorld Cup Champion Mosaad "Msdossary" Aldossary, Madden NFL 19 Bowl Champion Drini "Drini" Gjoka, Madden NFL 18 Bowl Champion Seamus "Young Kiv" Kivlen, and professional Apex Legends competitors Eric "Snip3down" Wrona and Bowen "Monsoon" Fuller (#StayandPlay)
Major League Baseball (MLB)
New York Yankees All-Star outfielder Aaron Judge and Milwaukee Brewers All-Star outfielder Christian Yelich
Major League Soccer (MLS)
Los Angeles Galaxy forward Javier "Chicharito" Hernández, Toronto FC and U.S. Men's National Team forward Jozy Altidore, and Orlando City SC forward Nani (#MLSUnites)
Two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion and Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch and 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion and Stewart-Haas Racing driver Kevin Harvick
National Basketball Association (NBA)
2020 NBA All-Star and Utah Jazz point guard Donovan Mitchell (#NBATogether)
National Football League (NFL)
New Orleans Saints All-Pro quarterback Drew Brees, Arizona Cardinals All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and San Francisco 49ers All-Pro tight end George Kittle
National Hockey League (NHL)
NHL Legend Wayne Gretzky, Chicago Blackhawks Captain Jonathan Toews and Toronto Maple Leafs Assistant Director of Player Development and former Canadian Women's ice hockey Gold Medalist Hayley Wickenheiser
National Women's Soccer League (NWSL)
United States Women's National Soccer Team and Sky Blue FC forward Carli Lloyd and United States Women's National Soccer Team and Orlando Pride striker Alex Morgan
United States Golf Association (USGA)
Lydia Ko, winner of the 2012 U.S. Women's Amateur and youngest number-1 ranked player of all-time
Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA)
Four-time WNBA All-Star guard Skylar Diggins-Smith of the Phoenix Mercury and two-time WNBA All-Star and 2018 WNBA MVP forward Breanna Stewart of the Seattle Storm (#WNBATogether)
Women's Tennis Association (WTA)
American teenage sensation who won her first three WTA titles and broke into the Top 50 at just 15 years old, Coco Gauff; Champion of the 2018 U.S. Open followed by 2019 Australian Open, Naomi Osaka from Japan; highest-ranked Canadian in the history of the WTA and 2019 US Open Champion, Bianca Andreescu; WTA World No.1 and 2019 Roland Garros Champion from Australia, Ashleigh Barty; and former WTA World No.1 from Belarus with 20 WTA career singles titles, Victoria Azarenka
World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE)
WWE Superstars John Cena, Triple H and Charlotte Flair