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Two inspiring stories show bonds football creates

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Content provided by the NFL

This season, NFL fans from across the country shared their stories under the banner “Together We Make Football.” Players and coaches at every level of the sport submitted their stories to, explaining how teamwork and togetherness helped communities in small towns and big cities from Alaska to Florida. Fans of every team in the league nominated friends and family members who had overcome personal struggles and found happiness through football.

Fans were encouraged to watch and share the stories and videos of these inspiring teams and individuals, and then vote to determine winners. In the end, the NFL chose one individual and one team to send to Phoenix to attend Super Bowl XLIX. Here are the individual and team winners.

Christian Osterhout, Edmond, Okla.

Osterhout is a senior football player at Crossings Christian School in Edmond, Okla. When Christian was a freshman in high school, his father died after a lengthy battle with ALS. Christian’s football coach, Chris Roberts, became a kind of surrogate father to the young man, and Christian began spending much of his time with Roberts and his family.

Three years later, just a few days before taking the field for his first football game as a senior, Christian lost his mother to a rare skin disease called scleredema. Roberts immediately invited Christian into his home to stay. Coach Roberts and his wife Sarah took care of Christian as he played through the season, helping the young man excel on the field and cope with his devastating losses off the field. Christian and the Roberts family will head to Super Bowl XLIX to help spread their uplifting story.

Baron (Calif.) High Bobcats

The small town of Boron, Calif., is almost completely sustained by the U.S. Borax boron mine, the largest of its kind in the world. Though the mine is still functioning, the town has fallen on hard times, and the local high school was in need of some facility upgrades. Boron High is the smallest school in California that plays 11-man football, which means second-year coach Tim Seaman is forced to get creative with his formations and substitutions. With a roster of just 23 players, everyone is expected to contribute, and many of the Bobcats play both offense and defense.

Seaman knew it would be tough to compete with older facilities, including a weight room that was in need of repair. He reached out for donations from companies across the country but was rebuffed. He then turned his attention to the local community and found hundreds of Boron residents ready and willing to support the local team. Players worked to fix, paint and re-tile the weight room, all in pursuit of another successful season from an unlikely team. Now, the Boron Bobcats will get to go to Phoenix for Super Bowl XLIX.

Watch the videos for these stories and the other finalists at