The lead guitarist of the rock band Pearl Jam, Mike McCready, has joined forces with the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America to organize a flag football tournament in Seattle, the home of the Seahawks, to help raise awareness for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). The 48-year-old guitarist has been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease himself, and has remained dedicated to projects related to advocating for research and awareness of the disease.
The inaugural flag football tournament will take place on Sunday, September 7th at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field and is open to the public. Each team will compete in 25-minute, 7-on-7 matches, divided into competitive or recreational divisions. Each squad will play at least three games. The event will also include a celebrity football game, in which stars such as Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan, Alice in Chains’ lead guitarist Jerry Cantrell, former Seattle SuperSonics point guard and head coach Lenny Wilkins, ESPN’s Kenny Mayne, former Seahawks Lawyer Milloy, Craig Terrill, Joe Tafoya, Kerry Carter, and John Moffitt will play.
“The excitement of the Super Bowl and how our city rallied around the Seahawks was awesome,” McCready said about the team’s 2013 performance. “I haven’t seen anything like it since the Sonics won the championship in ’79, and to a certain extent in 1995 when the Mariners went on their amazing run. But the idea of playing football on CenturyLink Field — the same field the Super Bowl Champ Seahawks get to play on — is amazing!”
The guitarist has been involved in events dedicated to raising awareness about IBD after being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease 27 years ago. “I first got sick in the late 80s when I was in L.A. trying to make it with my first band Shadow,” said McCready. “I was eating lunch with the band and had my first ever ‘attack.’ It was a pain I had never experienced before and I had to rush to the bathroom. I won’t go into detail, but I knew I had to see a doctor ASAP.”
The doctors identified the disease that affects any part of the gastrointestinal tract and causes abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, and weight loss. The guitarist had never heard about it, and needed the support from his current wife Ashley O’Connor to find a foundation that could help him several years after the diagnosis. “It was then that I first met others who had the disease and I was inspired to get involved. I started working with the local chapter of CCFA and have since met countless people who have incredibly inspiring stories, including so many kids who live with these diseases,” he added.
Since that time, McCready has been dedicated to projects to raise awareness for the disease, such as this flag football tournament, as well as projects to benefit funding and research. “I start touring with Pearl Jam next month, so my only wish is to keep my fingers and hands injury-free,” said McCready. “Hope we get some people in the stands to watch it!”