The NFL is usually pretty rigid on what players can wear on the field, but on Sunday, you’ll see many of them donning customized, multicolored cleats – all dedicated to charities important to them.
For the Carolina Panthers, Thomas Davis, Greg Olsen Cam Newton, Charles Johnson, Colin Jones and Shaq Thompson will all be wearing special cleats during the matchup against the Seattle Seahawks. It’s part of the NFL’s “My Cause, My Cleats” campaign, a league-wide initiative for all of week 13.
Tight end Greg Olsen worked with Nike to design a pair for his nonprofit, the HEARTest Yard, customized in red and blue, colors signifying congenital heart disease. Olsen’s son T.J. was born with the condition and treated at Charlotte’s Levine Children’s Hospital, and the Olsens set up their nonprofit in 2012 to assist families whose children are born with similar conditions and treated at Levine.
The HEARTest Yard has raised at least $1.2 million, Olsen said in a recent interview.
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“Hopefully it’ll be great awareness not only for our program but for congenital heart defects in general,” Olsen said of the cleats campaign. “It’s the same concept as the breast cancer awareness, where everyone wears pink. But this is a little more specific to each guy for one week. It’s personal.”
Olsen said this is the second pair of cleats he’s worn this season.
“I don’t do the Cam thing (with) a new pair every day. I couldn’t do it. I just like them worn-in.”
More than 500 players are participating in the NFL’s campaign, and they’ve worked with companies like Nike, Under Armour and Adidas on the designs, the league said in a statement this week.
Some players, including linebacker Davis, are also opting to auction off their cleats at NFL Auction. All of the proceeds raised will be donated to the charities selected by the players.
Below are the charities each player will be representing. Each player explained the importance of their charitable work on The Players Tribune earlier this week.
▪ Thomas Davis: Defending Dreams Foundation
▪ Greg Olsen: The HEARTest Yard
▪ Cam Newton: Cam Newton Foundation
▪ Charles Johnson: Charles Johnson Foundation
▪ Colin Jones: Christian Outdoor Alliance
▪ Shaq Thompson: Boys and Girls Club of Greater Charlotte
Staff writer Joseph Person contributed.