The NFL’s My Cause My Cleats campaign will be held during this weekend’s games, allowing players to wear custom cleats highlighting charitable and other causes they are passionate about. Fourteen players will wear cleats to call attention to anti-bullying efforts.
Bullying is the scourge of way too many people, with young LGBTQ people being especially vulnerable. One of the groups being supported by the players’ cleats campaign is Stomp Out Bullying, which “works to reduce and prevent bullying, cyberbullying, sexting and other digital abuse, educates against homophobia, LGBTQ discrimination, racism and hatred, and deters violence in schools, online and in communities across the country.”
One of the players wearing special cleats is Minnesota Vikings defensive lineman Linval Joseph, who has written the words “real players don’t bully” on the inside of his. Joseph, now one of the most feared defensive players in the league, says he was bullied as a kid.
“I remember being young, and I would come home and say, ‘This person is doing this,’ and [the response was], ‘Oh, be quiet … he’ll leave you alone.’ That’s not a good enough answer for a kid in this generation,” Joseph said. “By ignoring their feelings and what’s going on with them, you don’t know [how it will affect them]. Having some sort of communication or line to call and talk to somebody, it doesn’t matter if you’re 5 years old or a grown adult. Like I said, bullying doesn’t have an age.”
In reviewing the list of causes players are supporting, compiled by Bleacher Report, I could find no one who picked a cause directly linked to a gay issue or anything else LGBTQ-related.
However, in addition to anti-bullying initiatives, 11 players are highlighting suicide prevention. Suicide is another scourge of the LGBTQ community, especially among young people.
Here are the 14 players who are raising awareness of anti-bullying with their cleats (in 2017, nine players wore such cleats):
- Deon Lacey, Buffalo Bills, Community Improvement/Anti-Bullying (Black Belt Foundation)
- Lorenzo Doss, Carolina Panthers, Anti-Bullying (Doss Foundation)
- Carlos Dunlap, Cincinnati Bengals, Anti-Bullying (Carlos Dunlap Foundation)
- Connor Williams, Dallas Cowboys, Anti-Bullying (StopBullying.gov)
- Mike Daniels, Green Bay Packers, Anti-Bullying (StopBullying.gov)
- Jerry Montgomery, Green Bay Packers, Anti-Bulling (Stomp Out Bullying)
- Corey Moore, Indianapolis Colts, Anti-Bullying (Stop Bullying)
- Linval Joseph, Minnesota Vikings, Anti-Bullying (Bully the Bull)
- Stephon Gilmore, New England Patriots, Mental Health Awareness; Anti-Bullying
- Eric Rowe, New England Patriots, Anti-Bullying (Character Playbook)
- Jonotthan Harrison, New York Jets, Anti-Bullying (Stomp Out Bullying)
- Thomas Hennessy, New York Jets, Anti-Bullying (Stomp Out Bullying)
- Brandon Shell, New York Jets, Anti-Bullying (Stomp Out Bullying)
- DeForest Buckner, San Francisco 49ers, Anti-Bullying (Beyond Differences: Inspiring Youth to End Social Isolation)