More than 20* *New Orleans Saints players have taken advantage of the opportunity to share the causes that are important to them during their Week 13 game against the Detroit Lions at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome (noon kickoff), as part of the NFL's My Cause, My Cleats campaign. The initiative is a culmination of 18 months of collaborative work between the NFL and players across the league, and it includes an online storytelling platform, in partnership with The Players' Tribune. Throughout the season, participating players have worked with The Players' Tribune to tell the stories behind their cleats via long-form features and profile cards.
Select Saints players are planning to showcase their causes via their shoes on-field during the Saints tilt against the Lions on Sunday, a game in which the 50 top players in Saints history will be honored at halftime as part of the team's 50th season celebration. A majority of Saints players have worked in close collaboration with New Orleans Saints Director of Community Affairs Elicia Broussard Sheridan and noted New Orleans artist Christina Pappion (www.pappionartistry.com) on the designs of the cleats they will wear. Pappion has generously donated her time and efforts to the My Cause, My Cleats project. In addition, some Saints players have worked directly with their shoe manufacturer in the design and production of their cleats.
Beginning this week, players will also start sharing images of their cleats and their stories behind them on social media, using the hashtag #mycausemycleats.
"One of the great NFL traditions is how our players passionately support important causes in their communities and around the globe every year," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. "They are incredibly creative by nature so we are not surprised how they are seizing the opportunity this week with inspiring expressions of their charitable commitments on their cleats, online and through social media."
Additionally, Saints players will have the opportunity to raise funds for the cause of their choosing by auctioning their cleats off at NFL Auction; 100 percent of funds raised will be donated to charities selected by players.
"What I love about it is that it helps fans draw a more personal connection to us as players and the things that are important to us off-the-field and the causes that are important to the players," said Saints QB Drew Brees. "A lot of players have their own foundations, and mission statements attached to the foundations, and it will allow the fans to see and connect with the players and what's most important to them and the causes. I also think anything that can draw a closer bond to our fan bases and the players and the things that are important to them is great for the league, the teams and the communities."
Saints players, ranging from rookies through seasoned veterans, will proudly showcase their customized cleats this week. The following is a list of Saints players, their causes and a brief description of their cleat initiative who have elected to participate in the inaugural My Cause, My Cleats awareness campaign:
T Terron Armstead
Autism Awareness/Autism Speaks
Armstead: "I have a couple of friends back home whose children have autism, which made me read about it. It's just so unbelievably rare and undetected that it's scary. My twins were playing at a playground with a few autistic kids and they were just so amazing and full of fun. This certainly struck a chord with me and I'm honored to be able to support Autism Speaks."
S Vonn Bell
Social Justice/Urban League
Bell: "This is a chance to show the people of my hometown that they can chase their dreams and do great things by getting off the streets and making something great of themselves. This really hit home to me and I immediately thought of my hometown and all that is going on there right now. I'm a huge supporter of my hometown and want to be a role model that great things can happen if you set your mind to it."
QB Drew Brees
Improving the quality of lives for people stricken with cancer/The Brees Dream Foundation
Brees: "In terms of my cleats, I think it is awesome what Nike did for me. The cleats are black-and-gold and match up to the Saints' colors and what I'd normally wear but then there is the red, white and blue in there which gives a nod to my national patriotism. And having The Brees Dream Foundation logo on the cleats gives me great pride in what we've been able to do, in not only the New Orleans community, but nationally, and I think it brings a lot of awareness to the things that we're doing and that's a great thing."
RB Travaris Cadet
Creating pathways for higher education/Cadet Academic Scholarships
Cadet: "Haiti has had to deal with an incredible amount of adversity in recent years, most recently Hurricane Matthew and the destruction it brought. Thousands of people were killed and this is a way to reach my hand out to tell them I'm paying my respects to them and their struggles. I'm half Haitian (father's side) and I have relatives that died as a result of Matthew. I am trying to show kids that they have opportunities to make it is through with putting an emphasis on education and maximizing on the educational process. That is how I was afforded the chance to go to college and then play in the NFL. I want to kids to see our shoes and know that there is hope and that there is a way to a better life through education."
WR Brandon Coleman
Alzheimer's Awareness/Alzheimer's Association
Coleman: "I currently have my great grandmother dealing with Alzheimer's and I lost my grandma earlier this year after she lost a great fight. That's why this is important to me to be an advocate for this horrible disease."
WR Brandin Cooks
Cooks: "God gave me the ability and the talent to do what I always dreamed about doing. All praise to Him."
LS Justin Drescher
Improving the lives of those in need through support of local causes and organizations in the New Orleans and Gulf South communities, with a strong focus on children's charities and cancer initiatives/What You Give Will Grow Foundation.
Drescher: "I'm really excited. One of the reasons I choose Thomas' foundation is because I understand what kind of man he is and how passionate he is about supporting the causes his foundation serves. I hope in some small way that this honors and helps grow his foundation."
TE Coby Fleener
Fleener: "After hearing Christine Cain speak at a conference and hearing numerous accounts of human trafficking and slavery I couldn't help but imagine how painful it would be if someone in my family was forced into slavery."
S Roman Harper
Youth Development/Harper's Hope 41 Foundation
Harper: "I'm really excited. I'm putting some swag to it and hopeful that this is another way to represent my foundation and the great work we have been doing for the last eight years. This is an opportunity for us to do that and I'm excited about it."
RB Tim Hightower
Human Rights & Law Enforcement/International Justice Mission and Anti-Human Trafficking
Hightower: "This is really important to me because I believe strongly in the mission of the International Justice Mission and calling attention to the fact that there are people all over the world who are in bondage and being underserved. I think it's our responsibility to support their freedoms and to end all forms of slavery and oppression."
TE Josh Hill
Wounded Military Veterans & Active Military Members/Operation Hat Trick
Hill: "I have family that has served in the military. One of my best friend's also serves in the military and he's told me about the great work that Operation Hat Tick does. I have heard and seen many of the struggles that the veterans go through and I want to take this opportunity to bring positive attention to their great cause."
RB Mark Ingram
Children Dealing with Incarcerated Parents/The Mark Ingram Foundation
Ingram: "I want to bring a lot of awareness to The Mark Ingram Foundation because it's something that's very important to me and it's something close to my heart, considering my father was incarcerated for a number of years when I was growing up. I'm proud of the work we are doing through my foundation and some of the things that we do for these children, such as Christmas shopping events that we do each year. I'm continually looking for ways to try to build my foundation each year and this is a great chance to show people what the Mark Ingram Foundation is all about."
DE Cameron Jordan
Improving lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities around the world to advance the common good/United Way
Jordan: "I've have a great relationship with the United Way and having done quite a few events with them, I see the tremendous impact that they have on people's lives. My father, who played in the NFL, stressed to our family the importance of giving time and effort to those less fortunate. My cleats are a tribute to the work of the United Way and all those lives that they touch and we will touch going forward."
G/T Senio Kelemete
Cancer Awareness/American Cancer Society
Kelemete: "I have an Uncle (Vika) who had cancer and passed away from it. I've seen just how terrible cancer can be and his struggle touched me and I'm proud to honor his memory and the memories of those lost to cancer with my cleats this weekend."
RB Daniel Lasco
Multiple Sclerosis Awareness/National Multiple Sclerosis Society
Lasco: "I am doing it for my uncle, who was diagnosed with it a few years ago. It's a great opportunity to show some appreciation for those suffering from MS and the daily struggles they are faced it. It's a good cause, not only the fact that some guys will have different cleats, but it goes to show the NFL has given us a forum to go out and help awareness for charities that help so many people out."
G Tim Lelito
Serving Underprivileged Youth/Lelito's Legacy Foundation
Lelito: "I think this is huge. We all know how tightly enforced the NFL uniform codes are and so to have this opportunity is great. It's nice to have this opportunity to showcase creativity and the causes and foundations which matter most to the players as individuals. This is a great cause and I'm dedicating it to help make the lives of some children better through needed services for them."
P Thomas Morstead
Improving the lives of those in need through support of local causes and organizations in the New Orleans and Gulf South communities, with a strong focus on children's charities and cancer initiatives/What You Give Will Grow Foundation
Morstead: "I'm wearing some special cleats to honor the late Sam Foltz (punter/Nebraska) and Mike Sadler (punter/Michigan State) who were killed in an automobile accident over the summer. Their numbers will be on the back of my shoes and this is my way of letting them and their families know that they are remembered and that they will take the field as pros. As fate would have it, one was right footed and the other left and I'll commemorate that. It's emotional just thinking about them. They meant a lot to a lot of people, foremost their families. They were both NFL talents. I'll send their families the shoes after the game and I hope its special to them."
WR Willie Snead IV
Prosthetic Support for Amputees/50 Legs
Snead IV: "My mother introduced me to the fund-raising coordinator of the organization (50 Legs), Ms. Tiffany Willis. I had an opportunity to hear her story and listen to the incredibly inspirational path she has traveled and it moved me. When I heard about the opportunity we had with the cleats, I knew this was an opportunity for me to showcase 50 Legs to a bigger audience. I'm able to join that fight through my play and with my shoes I am putting inspirational words that the kids gave me and what they best described the journey that they go through."
DE Darryl Tapp
Serving underprivileged youth/Tapp Family Fund
Tapp: "I've been blessed to play for quite a few years in the NFL and been given the opportunity to positively impact the lives of children and improving their quality of life. It's something our family takes very seriously and I'm honored to be able to show that in my footwear this Sunday. It's a tribute to those that dreams can come true if you set your mind to it and do the right things along the way."
G Landon Turner
Lung Cancer Awareness/American Cancer Society
Turner: "Jim "Bubby" Braxton, my uncle, played in the NFL for the Buffalo Bills. He was an inspiration to me and our entire family through what he accomplished. I grew up hearing stories about what kind of player he was and what kind of man and he's inspired me my entire career. He was afflicted with lung cancer that then moved into his brain. I am wearing my cleats this weekend to honor his memory and all of the families that have been affected by cancer."
S Kenny Vaccaro
Education & Literacy/The Kenny Vaccaro Foundation
Vaccaro: "Growing up my parents really stressed the importance of education and specifically the importance of literacy and reading and building off that foundation. It was instilled in me that schoolwork came before sports because sports are never a given but being well-read and knowledgeable is something that will last a lifetime."