This is the Seahawks Gameday Magazine feature story for Week 5 of the 2020 season, presented by Gatorade. Visit our Game Center for more information related to Week 5 vs. the Minnesota Vikings.
Neiko Thorpe won't be on the field when the Seahawks host the Vikings Sunday night for what will be the team's annual Crucial Catch game.
But even though the veteran cornerback won't be able to suit up due to injury, he'll be very invested in this weekend's game, not just because he wants to see his team and his teammates succeed, but also because he has a strong appreciation for what the NFL does each October with its NFL Crucial Catch: Intercept Cancer initiative.
One of the main goals of the Crucial Catch campaign is to promote early detection, and Thorpe, who has seen up close through friends and family the pain cancer can inflict, is fully on board with the early detection message. When he was in ninth grade, Thorpe was there to support his close friend, Desmond Clark, after Clark lost his mother to cancer. As a young man early in his NFL career, Thorpe lost his aunt, Cheryl Walker, to cancer, a woman he said, "was like a second mom to me."
And while those experiences brought a lot of pain to Thorpe and his loved ones, it also gave him a perspective he knows a lot of people not closely affected by cancer might not have.
"Just take it serious," Thorpe said. "(Cancer) came into my life in ninth grade, but if that didn't happen, I could easily see myself not being aware of it, not taking this as seriously. I want to spread the word, get your checkups, let your uncles know, your aunties, your grandparents, just make sure everybody you love, ask them, 'You get your checkup?' It's not that hard. It's simple, it's painless."
Before the NFL launched the Crucial Catch campaign and focused on breast cancer during October, Thorpe would sport pink shoes, wristbands and gloves, and in more recent years he has worn a variety of colors that represent cancers that can be detected early, including:
Navy: Colon Cancer
Pink: Breast Cancer
Lavender: All Cancers
Teal: Cervical Cancer
Blue: Prostate Cancer
Gold: Childhood Cancers
White: Lung Cancer
If Thorpe were playing, he would again be wearing various colored wrist bands representing those cancers in Sunday's Crucial Catch game, which is just part of a month of cancer awareness activities that are part of the Seahawks' Crucial Catch initiative in partnership with Virginia Mason and CHI Franciscan.