Depending on which team you follow, it may be as exciting — if not more so — to have a former National Football League player on hand at an event rather than a current player.

That is a distinct possibility now that Dairy Management Inc., which manages the national dairy checkoff program, has formed a partnership with the NFL Alumni Association. The partnership was announced this week at the DMI annual meeting in San Diego.

George Martin, former defensive end for the New York Giants and now executive director of the NFL Alumni Association, calls it “a win-win relationship.”  He says it will allow the former players to make a positive impact on their communities through the Fuel Up to Play 60 program, which is sponsored by the National Dairy Council and the National Football League to promote good nutrition and exercise among schoolchildren.

Martin said the dairy industry will have a “well-prepared and vetted pool of athletes” to help in this endeavor.

“I think this is something we will look back on someday and say this was something that was simply phenomenal,” Martin told a group of dairy leaders at a dinner Tuesday night. 

It will be an opportunity to involve many former players in community-outreach activities. Of 12,000 former players, approximately 5,500 are members of the NFL Alumni Association.

Currently, dairy-promotion groups arrange 95 appearances of NFL alumni a year, according to Tom Gallagher, chief executive officer of DMI. “That will go way up (with the new partnership),” he says.

“They have designated us as the health partner of choice,” Gallagher told attendees at the DMI/National Milk Producers Federation annual meeting on Wednesday.