Former Denver Broncos star quarterback John Elway was diagnosed with Dupuytren’s contracture 15 years ago. But he hasn’t publicly talked about it until now. The NFL Hall of Fame quarterback is joining Endo’s “Facts on Hand” awareness campaign for the disease that causes collagen buildup in the hands, forcing fingers into a bent position.
Elway announced his condition and his new spokesman role on NBC’s “Today” show Thursday morning. TV ads featuring the former Super Bowl MVP will begin Friday, along with social media posts on Facebook and Instagram. The campaign website will feature videos of Elway talking about his journey, along with those of pro golfer Tim Herron, who’s been a spokesman on the awareness effort for two years.
The TV ad, shot in Denver's Broncos Stadium at Mile High, will air in 30-second and 60-second versions. Elway walks through a crowded stadium talking about Dupuytren’s and his journey while the camera cuts to other people with the affliction, like a man buttoning his daughter’s coat and a woman carrying drinks.
“It got to the point that things I took for granted—everyday things—got tougher to do. It even reached the point where I couldn’t grip a football the way I used to. I waited to get treated. Why? Because I thought surgery was my only option. Turns out, I was wrong," Elway says.
Elway found successful treatment for his condition with a non-surgical option, although he does not specify what that was. Endo, the maker of injectable drug Xiaflex for Dupuytren’s contracture, first approached Elway after noticing telltale signs of Dupuytren’s in his hands in an online photograph. After they spoke, both realized they had the same goals in spreading awareness and education, said Nick Ferrara, senior director of marketing at Endo.
Endo has found many people who, like Elway, don’t realize there is a non-surgical option for their condition and don’t follow up with a doctor.
“It’s amazing how many people who have it, but the people around them don’t know what it is or they themselves don’t know. That’s what we’re trying to bring awareness to. As well as to the fact that surgery isn’t their only option, which unfortunately is one of the main reasons people don’t seek treatment because they’re waiting for the condition to get more severe. That’s what I think John feels passionate about, to let people know, ‘don’t be afraid to go to your doctor. Go and see what’s the best treatment for you,'” Ferrara said.