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Irvin, in a poignant message filmed last month, addressed his “brothers” and urged them to be open.

“We are part of an NFL family,” Irvin said. “We do have to look out for one another the way we did on the football field. . We have to share with one another . but we don’t talk. We shut up and . we implode. We put ourselves in isolation and that’s the worst thing you can do.”

Thursday’s announcement came following a meeting at NFL offices attended by Goodell, Dr. David Satcher, a former U.S. Surgeon General, and NFL execs Robert Gulliver and Troy Vincent, who will direct the new program.

Satcher has conducted 14 mental health forums for NFL retired players over the past two years and will coordinate more events across the country as well as online webinars.

Gulliver, NFL executive vice president of human resources and chief diversity officer, helped spearhead quality-of-workplace initiatives in the league office. Vincent, vice president of NFL Player Engagement, will continue to provide players with advice to thrive during and after their playing careers.

Gulliver and Vincent are charged with establishing an advisory board that will include former players and coaches and medical professionals. The board in part will help develop a training program for peer counselors and transition coaches.