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The NFL season is off to a roaring start for Minnesota Vikings linebacker Erin Henderson (or "Lionbacker" as he is affectionately known at National Geographic). Last year, Henderson committed to donating $1,000 to National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative (BCI) for every sack he made during the regular season in a campaign he calls Sacks for Big Cats. After making three sacks last year, Henderson exceeded his donation commitment and presented a check to BCI for a total of $5,000. Henderson has pledged to support the Big Cats Initiative again for the 2013 NFL season. These funds will help halt the rapid decline of big cats around the globe, whose populations have been plummeting for years in the face of human encroachment and environmental degradation.

Henderson, who has five big cat tattoos, has always been drawn to lions. From an early age, he said that he “felt the roar of a lion” coming from inside of him and always admired the way lions interacted with their cubs. One day while watching Nat Geo WILD programming with his toddler Lennox, he saw a Big Cats Initiative public service announcement (PSA) in which Betty White described the rapid decline of big cats in the wild. Henderson knew he had to do something. He wanted to make sure his own "little cub" would someday grow up to see a world full of the animals he treasures. That’s when Henderson’s Sacks for Big Cats was born. Henderson hopes his actions will inspire NFL fans and players to act on behalf of big cats before it’s too late. To celebrate Henderson’s dedication to the cause, Nat Geo WILD released this new PSA (above) entitled “Game of Inches” featuring Henderson’s passion for big cats and his force on the field.

As the second season of Sacks for Big Cats continues, Henderson hopes others will cause an uproar with him in support of big cats.

You also can help make a difference. Your donation can help save a big cat and ensure the Earth is not without these majestic creatures. Please donate today!

Learn more about how the Big Cats Initiative saves cats.

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Mimi Koumanelis
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Nat Geo WILD presents a week dedicated to nature’s fiercest felines—big cats—creatures of magnificent strength, ferocity, and beauty that are rapidly facing extinction. With visually stunning and powerful stories from around the world, get closer than ever before to lions, tigers, cheetahs, panthers, and more as you share in their triumphs, defeats, and epic struggles to survive.

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