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Friends in need: NFL joins Australian bushfire support mission

The NFL is the latest international sporting organisation to raise funds for Australia's bushfire victims, having dedicated a section on their auction website to the cause.

The US sporting powerhouse joins Australian sports codes including the NRL, AFL, cricket, soccer and tennis in helping to bring ongoing relief.

Earlier in January, nine Australian NBA players including Ben Simmons, Matthew Dellavedova, Aron Baynes and Patty Mills partnered with their league to donate more than $1 million to relief and recovery efforts.

A number of special NFL items have been specifically donated to support the bushfire appeal. Perth-born San Francisco 49ers punter Mitch Wishnowsky - who will play in the Super Bowl against the Kansas City Chiefs - has donated a signed jersey.

The ball used for the kick-off in the recent NFC Championship game, in which the 49ers beat the Green Bay Packers, is also for sale with the current bid already past $1000, while superstars like Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson have donated memorabilia.

 
 
 
 
 
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Australia is battling through the worst fires it's ever seen, anyone who is willing to donate the New South Wales rural fire brigades link is in my bio. 👍

A post shared by Mitchell Wishnowsky (@mitchwish3) on

Funds raised will be split between the Red Cross disaster relief appeal, the NSW Rural Fire Service and the World Wildlife Fund's bushfire campaign.

Henry Hodgson, the NFL's vice president of international marketing and fan development, is behind the initiative and said the devastation down under has been "terrible" to witness.

"We wanted to try to use our platform to raise some money and raise some awareness," Hodgson told NRL.com.

"It's certainly been covered a lot in the news and it's alarming to see it. I'm currently based in California so we have had some experience with fires here and it certainly seems to be getting worse recently.

"So when you see what you guys are facing, it's 10, 20, 100 times worse and so we felt like it was an opportunity for us to do something to help the people of Australia.

"And obviously knowing there are a lot of NFL fans there as well, we wanted to see if we could do our part."

The appeal has been promoted on NFL game broadcasts and also on the popular and talent-laden Around The NFL podcast,

Meanwhile, the NRL has announced that round one of the 2020 season will be an official Bushfire Appeal Round, while clubs and players have set up their own initiatives to lend a hand.

Elsewhere, players at the Australian Open tennis tournament - led by Canberran Nick Kyrgios - have pledged to donate money for every ace they hit.

The Australian Open website is also accepting donations, with more than five million dollars raised overall.

The AFL and cricket have organised charity games to drum up funds among other initiatives.