The NFL Kickoff has in recent years turned into what Opening Day is in Major League Baseball, and now the NFL has a center stage game with not only the nation watching, but the rest of the NFL, too. There will be concerts, community involvement, NFL programs for the kids and a lot of cheese curds and brats being served, not to mention the ability to find a favorite adult beverage of choice.

Generally, Hank Williams Jr. kicks off the Monday night party. The NFL will do their best on Thursday night Sept. 8 at 7:30, as all football junkies get their fix (and yes I’m one of them), but before the major concert outside Lambeau Field (performers will be announced later this week), the NFL will filter through the community of Green Bay the week prior to the kickoff game between the Packers and the New Orleans Saints on NBC.

Along with the concert, there are several festivities that involve the surrounding communities. The NFL is the only professional sport that sets the stage for the upcoming season and works hard to give back, or in this case, pay it forward.

The screening of the “America’s Game: 2010 Green Bay Packers,” highlight film will be a big hit. All fans, both Cheeseheads and Saints fanatics, will be treated to a concert on Holmgren Way and can watch performances along Armed Forces – and it’s all free! There will be three acts.

Nearly 500 elementary aged students, pre-selected from the Green Bay area, will participate in the NFL PLAY 60 Youth Football Festivals from Tuesday, Sept. 6 through Thursday, Sept. 8 at the Resch Center in Green Bay. The NFL understands several issues that are affecting society and today’s youth.

PLAY 60 is an NFL funded charity designed to create awareness in childhood obesity. NFL PLAY 60 brings together the NFL’s long-standing commitment to health and fitness. Since the program was launched in 2007, the NFL has committed more than $250 million to youth health and fitness.

All kids participating will receive Under Armour gear and compete in the Under Armour and NFL FLAG powered by USA Football drills. Former NFL players and Green Bay Packers greats will help in the youth event (running back Ahman Green and wide receiver Antonio Freeman). Both players will speak and enlighten the kids about the importance of exercise every day as part of the NFL PLAY 60 campaign.

NFL PLAY 60 partners and HOPSports, along with the National Dairy Council, also will be on site as part of their ongoing commitment to motivate youth and families to live active lifestyles. Participating students will receive a Switch2Health Replay band that will track their activity over the next four months. Those with the highest number of minutes will receive NFL PLAY 60 prizes. Students will have the chance to interact with NFL RUSH Zone, the NFL’s online game world and animated series for kids, and the NFL officiating department.

Kudos to the NFL and their players for giving back to the community. Today’s youth are the key and future leaders of tomorrow. Their health is a major obstacle with concerns later in life, as the baby boomers are finding out.