QUEER VOICES
12/03/2017 12:15 pm ET

9 NFL Players To Wear Special Cleats Raising Awareness Of Bullying

Shoes will be on display at this week’s games to highlight cause important to LGBT people.

This article originally appeared on Outsports

The NFL’s My Cleats My Clause campaign this weekend allows players to wear personalized cleats that promote a cause they are passionate about. For nine players, that cause is preventing bullying.

It’s powerful that nine men playing our most macho of games see this as an issue, and some of them were themselves bullied. Bullying is a problem for kids, especially those who are LGBT or suspected of being such. Being bullied can sometimes lead to those bullied taking their lives.

The anti-bullying message was the only link to LGBT issues I could find in sorting through the hundreds of causes listed by players from each of the 32 teams.

The vast majority deal with cancer or other diseases, general support programs for youth or veterans outreach. (And then there’s Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who can’t wear special cleats because he forgot to turn in the paperwork on time.)

I suspect that LGBT rights might be seen as “too political” by some, or else it’s not an issue especially dear to any one player’s heart. There are few players wearing cleats that support any sort of political cause. Los Angeles Chargers backup quarterback Kellen Clemens is supporting the anti-abortion National Right to Life organization. At least one player is wearing cleats supporting Colin Kaepernick, the former 49ers quarterback who sparked the movement to protest during the national anthem last year.

Here are the nine players whose cleats promote an anti-bullying message:

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

“I want to give a voice to the kids that are affected by bullying. My advice: Be nice, you never know what someone is going through.”

Carlos DunlapCincinnati Bengals defensive lineman

Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Thuzio

His Bully Free Zone is inspired by the story of 8-year-old Gabriel Taye of Cincinnati, who killed himself after being viciously bullied. “You should never have to feel like you have to stand up to the bully alone,” Dunlap said.

Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for Rolling Stone

His cause Boo2bullying “empowers me to strive for change. I have family who have been affected by by bullying. I want people who are bullied to know that you are and will always be loved.”

Tyrone CrawfordDallas Cowboys defensive lineman

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

“Growing up, I was bullied and was the bully at times. I know the effects it has on children and I want to change that culture.”

Mike DanielsGreen Bay Packers defensive lineman

Jim Matthews-USA TODAY NETWORK

“I was bullied when I was a child. I want to let kids affected know to never let anyone hinder you from being who and what you want to be.”

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

“I got involved to help prevent bullying in the youth. I want to give a voice to some kids that struggle.”

Kerry WynnNew York Giants defensive lineman

William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

“I have seen plenty of bullying in my life and often no one steps in to help. So I hope I can raise awareness for the importance of anti-bullying.”

Isaiah J Downing-USA TODAY Sports

“When I was younger, I was bullied because of my race. I want to make sure that kids can grow up, have fun, and not be concerned about getting teased or bullied.” His cause is Stomp Out Bullying

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Walsh’s cleats support The Bully Project, which notes: “In a nationwide survey, children feared anti-gay harassment more than any other kind of name-calling.”

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