FOXBORO, Mass. — The NFL is notorious for not allowing any smidgen of creativity or originality to creep into its game-day uniforms. The league is relaxing those standards this weekend, however, and players are taking full advantage.
As part of the “My Cause, My Cleats” initiative, the NFL will permit players to wear custom footwear during Week 13, and many are using the opportunity to raise awareness for various charitable causes.
Several New England Patriots players plan to participate, including linebacker Dont’a Hightower, cornerback Logan Ryan, safety Devin McCourty, tight end Martellus Bennett and defensive ends Chris Long and Rob Ninkovich.
Bennett has yet to reveal his special cleats, but he said they’ll be benefiting his Uncle Smarty Foundation. He also said he wished the NFL would allow players to express themselves and champion their own causes more often.
“I think there’s a ton of guys doing a lot of great things in the NFL,” Bennett said. “Whether it’s Brandon Marshall with his stigma of mental health awareness or my brother (Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett) with obesity and getting kids to eat right. You’ve got guys (like Long) dealing with water issues. You’ve got guys doing all kinds of great stuff and always giving back, and they never really get the chance to highlight those things.
“There’s a lot of negative stuff in the media because negativity sells. Controversy sells. But at the same time, it would be good to get a chance for the NFL to let these guys highlight what their causes are and what they’re doing. One week is cool, but the NFL, they give themselves a month. They’ve got breast cancer awareness, and I think they only donate, like, 1 percent of the proceeds that they make. Most of these guys are donating well over 50, 60 percent of their proceeds back to their charitable causes.”
He also added with a laugh: “I’m always trying to take advantage of the NFL. They’ve been taking advantage of me for nine years now.”
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images