NFL designates 'Hurricane Relief Weekend'

NEW YORK -- John Elway knew he wanted to do more than just
donate money for Katrina relief.

The Hall of Famer and former Denver Broncos quarterback
headlined more than 30 current and former NFL players in a
fund-raising telethon Monday night for the Bush-Clinton Katrina

"You want to get involved and be a part of something that
there's a chance to raise a whole bunch of money," Elway said.
"We can all donate money, but you want to do more."

The telethon, which started around 6 p.m. and lasted until
midnight, was part of the NFL's "Hurricane Relief Weekend." The
players took turns, 12 at a time, spending between 75 minutes to 2
hours answering telephones and taking donations from callers. ABC and ESPN aired the telethon from ABC's Times Square studio in New York as part of their Monday Night Football doubleheader.

The league initiative, under the theme "Recover & Rebuild," was a joint venture among the NFL, all 32 teams, its network television partners (including ESPN and ABC) and sponsors. The goal was to raise funds and attention to the needs of the Gulf Coast region following the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina.

The players were glad so many of their peers turned out to lend
their support to the fund-raising efforts.

"It shows a lot about the NFL, the players in the NFL to take
time out of their schedule so people in the New Orleans and
Mississippi area can continue to have enjoyable lives," Eagles
quarterback Donovan McNabb said. "It's a tragedy. People were
living in homes they lived in for all of their lives, and probably
traditional homes where their grandmothers and grandfathers had
lived and passed on to them, and now its gone."

After talking to some callers, New York Jets center Kevin Mawae,
a Louisiana native and former LSU player, was touched by the
appreciation and widespread desire of people wanting to contribute.

"The biggest thing was 'Are you guys really doing this?' I said
'Yes, we are,' and they'd say 'Thank you for doing what you guys
are doing,"' he said. "A kid called and gave me a dollar donation
and another kid wanted to send a check for $5. Those are the
stories you like to hear. Everyone wants to help one way or

Mawae said he and his wife also put together a drive on Saturday
that sent out two trucks filled with food to Baton Rouge for
distribution at shelters.

Hall of Famer and former Raiders coach Art Shell enjoyed the
small conversations.

"When they find out who you are, they know you by name," Shell
said. "They ask you what you're doing these days, how come you're
not coaching anymore. The main thing they'd talk about is the
hurricane relief, what a great thing we're doing and they're glad
to donate.

"Of course we carry a little conversation with them, tell them
thank you. We find out where they live, who they root for."

Former Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs star Marcus Allen
said people don't realize how many people were affected by the

"My mother is from there and my mother's family is from
there," he said. "Over 10 households have been displaced.
Everybody's fine, and we're happy about that. It affects

The Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund serves as an umbrella organization
for three special funds established by the governors of Alabama,
Louisiana and Mississippi to assist in the long-term recovery for
those states.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.