Nike just announced that St. Louis Rams Quarterback Sam Bradford is joining the company as a Nike N7 ambassador. The athletic apparel company launched its N7 campaign targeted at American Indians in 2007. “Inspired by Native American wisdom of Seven Generations,” according to the N7 Facebook page, the N7 brand is Nike’s “commitment to bring sport and all of its benefits to Native American and Aboriginal communities in the USA and Canada.” Through purchases of N7 products, Nike supports the N7 Fund, which provides Native and Aboriginal communities with grants to fund sports and physical fitness programs.
Nike shared the news and Bradford’s new role in Washington, DC, on April 27, when Bradford joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to encourage American Indian youth to eat healthy and stay active.
Bradford, an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation, planted heirloom American Indian crops and indigenous vegetables in a garden, called The Roots of American Agriculture, with more than 30 American Indian students and USDA officials on April 27. Practicing traditional native planting techniques, they celebrated the enormous contributions American Indians have made to the foods eaten regularly across the country and globe. The garden is part of the USDA’s People’s Garden Initiative, which promotes the establishment of school and community gardens.
The Oklahoma-bred Bradford has set many firsts for the American Indian community and athletes. He scored the starting quarterback position for the Oklahoma Sooners as a freshman. In 2008, he became the first American Indian player and second sophomore to win a Heisman Trophy. “Bradford’s record-breaking statistics as a passer paralleled his outstanding academic honors,” states the Nike N7 website.
On April 22, 2010, Bradford was selected by the St. Louis Rams as the first overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. In his first NFL season, Bradford received the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award after setting the record for most completions by a rookie in NFL history.
At the USDA event, Bradford and Tom Vilsack, USDA Secretary of Agriculture, noted that a recent study of four-year-old children found that obesity is more than twice as common among American Indian/Alaska Native children than among white or Asian children. In 2002, nearly 15 percent of those children who received care at the Indian Health Service (IHS) were estimated to have diabetes.
“Through programs like ‘Fuel up to Play 60‘ and Let’s Move!, the Obama administration is helping get kids active in order to help them have a healthy future,” said Vilsack at the Washington DC ceremony. “Our partners at the NFL and across the country are key to engaging kids in an exciting way that teaches them that physical activity can be fun, while also important to their health.”
Fuel Up to Play 60 is an in-school nutrition and healthy living program that promotes engaging in 60 minutes of physical activity every day. A joint initiative by the National Dairy Council (NDC) and the National Football League (NFL), with additional partnership support from USDA, Fuel Up to Play 60 is designed to empower youth to take action by implementing positive changes for themselves and their schools.
First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” program is a national effort to end child obesity within a generation and help America raise a healthier generation of kids.
Bradford and Vilsack were accompanied at the USDA event by Robin Schepper, executive director of Let’s Move!; Jacqueline Johnson Pata, executive director of the National Congress of American Indians; Keith Moore, director of the Bureau of Indian Education; and Janie Hipp, senior adviser to Vilsack with the USDA Office of Tribal Relations.