Go Inside the NFL's 'My Cause My Cleats' Initiative

Giancarlo Ferrari-King@@GiancarloKingFeatured ColumnistDecember 2, 2016

Image courtesy of Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality

Week 13 in the National Football League is going to be one worth remembering. Forget all of the intriguing matchups and playoff implications. Week 13 stands on its own merit because the NFL will finally allow players to wear custom cleats, with all of the proceeds going toward a charity of each athlete's choice.

The NFL is calling this the My Cause My Cleats initiative. In other words, NFL fields will be filled with a drove of custom footwear choices, and we couldn't be more excited to find out what over 500 personalities have in store for us.

Anna Isaacson, the NFL's senior vice president of social responsibility, mentioned this has been a concept two years in the making. "It was important to give players a platform for their stories to come out and be told. We also wanted to make sure there was a visual element to tell those stories," she explained to Bleacher Report.

All of this came about due to the success of the NFL's annual Breast Cancer Awareness Month and its Salute to Service program. The use of custom cleats—pink for Breast Cancer Awareness and camouflage for Salute to Service—sparked an idea, and after talking with various players, the My Cause My Cleats initiative was born.

The NFL Players Association's assistant executive director of external affairs and communications, George Atallah, commented on this sweeping program from the players' perspective. He mentioned how this endeavor will allow athletes to raise awareness for causes they are passionate about

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Atallah also believes finding a "tasteful" way to amend the NFL's rigid uniform policy is something the NFLPA would welcome. My Cause My Cleats seems to be a strong start to that line of thinking.

Image courtesy of the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality

When asked if there was anything fans should be on the lookout for in Week 13, Atallah hinted that we could be in store for unique social media tie-ins from various athletes participating in the action. He called it players expressing their "sneakerheadness."

The NFL also made note of two important elements to keep an eye on. For starters, there will be clusters of players raising awareness for the same cause, like New England Patriots defensive end Chris Long and his Waterboys Initiative. Look for other athletes to feature similar cleats to raise additional awareness for Long's cause.

On top of that, various spikes used during Week 13 will be available for auction by the NFL, with all proceeds going toward the corresponding charities.

The My Cause My Cleats program is something worth getting behind from all points of view. It's a unique way for players to bring attention to the charities they're focused on.

Below is an extensive list, providing the name, team and charity for a select group of participating athletes. You can scroll through and find out which one of your favorite NFL stars will be rocking a custom pair of cleats in Week 13.

Athletes Participating in My Cause My Cleats
Pat ScalesChicago BearsDream Foundation
Josh NormanWashington RedskinsStarz24
Blake BortlesJacksonville JaguarsThe Blake Bortles Foundation
Gavin EscobarDallas CowboysAmerican Cancer Society
Alfred MorrisDallas CowboysThe Salvation Army
Torrey SmithSan Francisco 49ersTorrey Smith Family Fund
Malcolm JenkinsPhiladelphia EaglesThe Malcolm Jenkins Foundation
Calais CampbellArizona CardinalsCRC Foundation/United Way
Shane RayDenver BroncosAmerican Diabetes Association/Shane's Shoes
Chris LongNew England PatriotsThe Waterboys Initiative
Brandon MarshallNew York JetsProject 375
Benjamin WatsonBaltimore RavensWatson One More Foundation/International Justice Mission
Carson WentzPhiladelphia EagesAudience of One
Brandon WilliamsBaltimore RavensBoys & Girls Club of America
Shaq ThompsonCarolina PanthersThe Dreambuilder’s Foundation
Eric KendricksMinnesota VikingsThe Dreambuilder’s Foundation
Cameron HeywardPittsburgh SteelersCameron Heyward Foundation
Ryan DavisDallas CowboysAmerican Diabetes Association
Ezekiel ElliottDallas CowboysSPCA of Texas
Brice ButlerDallas CowboysLove Jones 4 Kids
Byron JonesDallas CowboysCarr Cares Foundation
Michael CrabtreeOakland RaidersCrab 5 Foundation
Mason CrosbyGreen Bay PackersWisconsin Chapter of Make-A-Wish Foundation
Michael BennettSeattle SeahawksThe Bennett Foundation
Carlos DunlapCincinnati BengalsCarlos Dunlap Foundation
Delanie WalkerTennessee TitansMADD & Delanie Walker Gives Back
Sean LeeDallas CowboysBoys & Girls Club Dreambuilders
Mohamed SanuAtlanta FalconsEmbrace Kids Foundation
T.J. WardDenver BroncosT.J. Ward Foundation
Thomas DavisCarolina PanthersThomas Davis Defending Dreams Foundation
Matt RyanAtlanta FalconsChildren's Healthcare of Atlanta
Eric WoodBuffalo BillsEric Wood Foundation
Devon StillHouston TexansStill Strong Foundation
DeAngelo WilliamsPittsburgh SteelersThe DeAngelo Williams Foundation
Michael ThomasMiami DolphinsVan Duzer Foundation
Alex CarterDetroit LionsJuvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
Victor CruzNew York GiantsVictor Cruz Foundation
Donald PennOakland RaidersDonald Penn Foundation
Greg OlsenCarolina PanthersReceptions for Research
Brian PetersHouston TexansTyler's Light
Cam NewtonCarolina PanthersCam Newton Foundation
Patrick PetersonArizona CardinalsPatrick Peterson's Foundation for Success
Chris Harris Jr.Denver BroncosChris Harris Jr. Foundation
Taurean NixonDenver BroncosThe Hydrocephalus Association
Rex BurkheadCincinnati BengalsTeam Jack Foundation
Dont'a HightowerNew England PatriotsAmerican Diabetes Association
Dekoda WatsonDenver BroncosKoda's Kids Foundation
Russell OkungDenver BroncosBe Greater Foundation
Jason McCourtyTennessee TitansTackle Sickle Cell Campaign
Devin McCourtyNew England PatriotsTackle Sickle Cell Campaign
Rashad JenningsNew York GiantsRashad Jennings Foundation
Lee SmithOakland RaidersBrian Moorman's PUNT Foundation
Jarvis JenkinsKansas City ChiefsBarbershop Books
Justin EllisOakland RaidersAmerican Childhood Cancer Organization
Kelvin BeachumJacksonville JaguarsFeeding America
C.J. GoodwinAtlanta FalconsPeGA Foundation
Kirk CousinsWashington RedskinsInternational Justice Mission
Jaelen StrongHouston TexansAmerican Cancer Society
T.Y. HiltonIndianapolis ColtsNational Parents Organization
Brian CushingHouston TexansBrian Cushing Foundation
Desmond TrufantAtlanta FalconsTrufant Family Foundation
Ben HeeneyOakland RaidersAmerican Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Jon CondoOakland RaidersEmily Whitehead Foundation
Vernon DavisWashington RedskinsVernon Davis Foundation for the Arts
Houston BatesWashington RedskinsRyan Kerrigan's Blitz for the Better Foundation
Kayvon WebsterDenver BroncosKayvon Webster GameChangers Foundation
Morgan MosesWashington RedskinsMorgan Moses Foundation
Will ComptonWashington RedskinsTeam Jack Foundation
Muhammad WilkersonNew York JetsT.E.A.M. 96 Foundation
Pierre GarconWashington RedskinsPierre Garcon Helping Hands Foundation
Devonta FreemanAtlanta FalconsDevonta Freeman Foundation
Christian CovingtonHouston TexansThe Sunshine Kids
Brock OsweilerHouston TexansRonald McDonald House of Houston
Justin ForsettDetroit LionsJohns Hopkins Alzheimer's Disease Research Center
Breno GiacominiNew York JetsAmerican Football Without Borders
Logan RyanNew England PatriotsThe Pittie Stop Rescue
Carlos HydeSan Francisco 49ersBoys & Girls Clubs of Silicon Valley
Colin JonesCarolina PanthersChristian Outdoor Alliance
Allen RobinsonJacksonville JaguarsAllen Robinson's Within Reach Foundation
Jordan PaytonCleveland BrownsGridiron Greats Assistance Fund
Joseph CardonaNew England PatriotsTravis Manion Foundation
Clay MatthewsGreen Bay PackersCure Duchenne
Jordan HowardChicago BearsPulmonary Fibrosis Foundation
Joseph BarksdaleSan Diego ChargersFender Music Foundation
Darrell StuckeySan Diego ChargersFellowship of Christian Athletes
Arthur MoatsPittsburgh SteelersRonald McDonald House Charities of Pittsburgh
Richard ShermanSeattle SeahawksBlanket Coverage Foundation
Brandon CarrDallas CowboysCarr Cares Foundation
Jameis WinstonTampa Bay BuccaneersJuvenile Diabetes Foundation
David JohnsonArizona CardinalsStomp Out Bullying
Jeff LockeMinnesota VikingsACES (Athletes Committed to Educating Students)
Von MillerDenver BroncosVon's Vision
Anthony CastonzoIndianapolis ColtsKids' Voice Indiana
Cody DavisLos Angeles RamsFellowship of Christian Athletes
Albert WilsonKansas City ChiefsThe Albert Wilson Foundation
Derrick JohnsonKansas City ChiefsDerrick Johnson's Defend the Dream
Travis KelceKansas City ChiefsEighty-Seven and Running
Antonio BrownPittsburgh SteelersBoys and Girls Club
Larry FitzgeraldArizona Cardinals1st and 10 Foundation

To check out an extended list of participating athletes, visit the Players' Tribune.

All quotes and My Cause My Cleats information obtained firsthand, unless noted otherwise.