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Pearl Jam's Mike McCready Headlines CCFA Flag Football Tournament at CenturyLink Field

For the second straight year, the Northwest Chapter of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America will host a flag football tournament at CenturyLink Field, an event headlined by Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready.

The Seahawks will open their 2015 season in St. Louis on Sunday, but that doesn't mean fans can't watch a little bit of football at CenturyLink Field this weekend.

For the second straight year, the Seahawks' home will host a flag football tournament Saturday benefiting the Northwest chapter of the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America.

And while ESPN's Kenny Mayne throwing a pass to Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready might lack the grace of Russell Wilson to Doug Baldwin, the event promises to be a good time for a good cause.  

For McCready, this is a very personal cause having lived with Crohn's for almost his entire adult life. He has been involved with various fundraisers for CCFA for years, and when Chris Adams, a member of the Board of trustees for the NW chapter of CCFA, proposed a flag football game, McCready was quick to lend his name to the event. And in Seattle, when a member of Pearl Jam gets involved, people pay attention. Last year's inaugural CCFA flag football tournament raised more than $105,000, and this year they're projecting to raise more than $126,000.

The list of participants includes McCready, Mayne, Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament, former Seahawk Joe Tafoya, several local TV and radio personalities and members of the local business community. A total of 14 teams will participate, each of which met a fundraising goal of at least $3,500 to be a part of the 7-on-7 tournament. Fans can purchase $10 tickets for the event here.

"It was a different way to do something instead of just doing a 5K or a walk," McCready said. "It seemed very inspired when (Adams) brought up the idea. The fact that the Seahawks let us use CenturyLink Field, that's huge too. When that all came together, we were very honored to be there.

"The event was really fun last year. We had a lot of teams. It's just getting out there and raising awareness while playing football, and hopefully raising more money. That's it, money and awareness. We're out there trying to do something positive and try to raise money and awareness for the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation."

As important as the money raised in this even will be, awareness is just as significant for someone like McCready, who kept his disease a secret for years. Crohn's and Colitis, which are both classified as Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, can be awkward to discuss. Too often, McCready says, people with Crohn's and Colitis, and kids in particular, are too embarrassed by the symptoms of the diseases, which can include persistent diarrhea and rectal bleeding, to seek help.

"I got Crohn's when I was 21—I'm 49 now—and I didn't know anybody that had it back then in 1986," McCready said. "It was embarrassing and shameful and awkward and messy and awful… When I see kids that have it and kind of the pressures they have to go through in terms of school and social pressures—it's a mess, it hurts, it's embarrassing—it sucks.

"There are kids who have it far worse than I do, and I'm just a whiny rock star about it. If there's a kid at school who has to go to the bathroom 25 times a day and the teacher doesn't believe him and it's super painful, I feel for that kid. That's why I'll always want to go to bat for that kid."

Awareness about Crohn's is also an important issue for former Seahawks cornerback Will Blackmon, whose mother died when he was 6 due to complications from surgery to treat her Crohn's disease. Blackmon has been involved with various chapters of CCFA in different cities where his career has taken him, including a fundraising walk in Jacksonville and lending his support to this flag football game.  

"More awareness is important," Blackmon said. "Crohn's is a silent killer, you'll meet someone who you never knew had it… No one talks about it until they feel comfortable."

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