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Leagues unite to recognize health care workers

Bob McKenzie joins the Our Line Starts crew to discuss the NHL's potential timeline for a return, the financial impact on the league and how the remainder of the regular season and playoffs may look.

LOS ANGELES -- New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, Hockey Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky and U.S. women’s soccer star Carli Lloyd are among the athletes participating in a project to recognize and celebrate health care workers for their efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The Real Heroes Project” is a collaboration involving 15 leagues, including Major League Baseball, the NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Soccer.

Beginning Monday, participating athletes will share a personal thank-you message on social media using (hash)TheRealHeroes. Throughout the public service announcements and personal tributes, athletes will cover their own name on their jerseys or uniforms and replace it with the name of the health care worker they are honoring.

PSAs will debut on Wednesday across league and team platforms. The other leagues participating are the ATP, NASCAR, NWSL, USGA, WNBA, WTA as well as the WWE and esports Overwatch League, Call of Duty League and Electronic Arts.

Other athletes participating include New York Yankees All-Star outfielder Aaron Judge and Milwaukee Brewers slugger Christian Yelich (MLB), Utah Jazz point guard Donovan Mitchell (NBA), Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (NFL), Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews and Hockey Hall of Famer Hayley Wickenheiser (NHL) as well as Los Angeles Galaxy forward Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Toronto FC forward Jozy Altidore and Orlando City SC forward Nani (MLS).

Two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch, U.S. soccer standout Alex Morgan, two-time WNBA All-Star Breanna Stewart and Ashleigh Barty, the world’s top-ranked women’s tennis player, also are participating.

The leagues teamed up with creative agency 72andSunny and production company Hecho Studios for the campaign.