Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Matt Gay says he was bullied growing up in Utah because of his last name and will wear special cleats to highlight anti-bullying efforts.

“Anti-bullying is huge to me,’’ Gay told the Tampa Bay Times as he unveiled the cleats he will wear Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts as part of the NFL’s “My Cause, My Cleats” campaign, the one game a year where players can wear cleats decorated to highlight a cause they are passionate about.

“I’ve had some nieces and nephews and family members close to me that were strongly affected by it,” Gay said of the bullying. “Especially with social media in this day and age. It’s everywhere. It’s so easy to hide behind a phone and say whatever you want. This is just really important to me because it hits home because I’ve had family members strongly affected by it. I think it’s pure coward-ism for those who do it and there’s no place for it in this world.

Matt Gay will wear these cleats Sunday.

“I got bullied and teased all the time for my last name and things like that. Luckily I was stronger willed than they were and overcome it. There’s a lot of kids that get bullied in this world and have no way to stand up for themselves.’’

In 2018, 14 NFL players wore cleats to highlight anti-bullying. I could not find a comprehensive list for this year, but did see that Oakland Raiders wide receiver Tyrell Williams, Dallas Cowboys receiver Cedric Wilson Cowboys and New York Jets center Jonotthan Harrison are all wearing cleats that say ‘Stomp Out Bullying.”

Kids can be very cruel and can only imagine the abuse Gay took simple by being born with a last name that is still a term of invective for young people. It’s cool that he is taking this stand with his cleats since it’s such an important subject.

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