Every week, every game is big and exciting. That is just life in the NFL playing football for a living. I am certainly learning that more and more during my rookie season. But this week, our game against the San Francisco 49ers is going to be special. This is the game the NFL has designated as our ‘My Cause, My Cleats’ game.
The ‘My Cause, My Cleats’ campaign is something that the NFL decided to start doing a few years ago. Players were wanting to make use of the platform we have to show support for causes they believe in and feel passionate about. So, the NFL and NFLPA came up with the ‘My Cause, My Cleats’ campaign to give everyone an opportunity to do just that.
It started off as something that was done just during Week 13. But this season every team has a designated home game where they can wear their custom-made cleats in support of their cause starting in Week 13 and running through the Thursday night game in Week 16.
My cause is going to be something that is very special to me and something I consider very important. It is the St. Pete Nitro Track Team in St. Petersburg, Florida.
My brother and I started the Club back when we were just kids; I believe we were in ninth grade at Lakewood High School. We wanted to do something for the community. One day while walking back from the dollar store after buying some candy, we came up with the idea.
It kind of caught Mom by surprise when she started getting all these calls asking when the Track Club was going to meet. We didn’t tell her we gave out our home number as the contact number for the Club.
The Club quickly turned into something more than just a Track Club. We helped each other with homework, problems at home, and just provided support to kids in the neighborhood that needed it.
My mom used to cook, we had dinners, we'd take kids to movies, so it wasn't just a track team, it was becoming a family. If you want to hang out or just get out of the house-- it was like your get-away from home. That's what we started to create: a family-based thing where if you're going through something, you have your second family that can help you work through whatever it is.
We started it with just a handful of kids. This year, there are 80 kids as young as five and as old as 18—and there’s a waiting list.
The St. Pete Nitro Track Club is a great organization that does a lot of good in the community. If you want to learn more, feel free to check out the website.