A number of Seahawks will feature custom kicks for charity in Sunday night's game against Carolina.
From fining touchdown celebrations to uniform violations, the NFL is notoriously stringent when it comes to just about any form of self expression from its players between the sidelines. In one notable case, it fined a pair of Steelers for honoring their late mothers with slight uniform alterations.
At the time, William Gay, whom the NFL reprimanded for wearing purple cleats to raise awareness about domestic abuse, said he was aware he was in violation of the rules but hoped to one day have a week where players could support causes such as his without penalty.
Well, Gay will get his wish during Week 13 — and six Seahawks are participating.
The league is peeling back one uniform guideline for this week’s slate of games, allowing players to debut custom cleats in the name of a charity of their choice. The game-used kicks will later be auctioned off, with the proceeds going to said charity. Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Doug Baldwin, Cliff Avril and Jimmy Graham will all take part with custom cleats. Earl Thomas will join them, though only using green laces to support the Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation.
Before the real benefit of the cause is reaped, however, we first get the treat of watching football complemented with some of the freshest cleats the league has ever seen.
Wilson will be in his signature high-top Nikes but with a custom white and gray camouflage pattern with a bright blue accent of global change in the name of his own foundation, the Why Not You Foundation.
“On my cleat, it’s pretty cool. Obviously it says Why Not You Foundation, but there’s a globe,” Wilson told Seahawks.com. “There’s a Western Hemisphere and an Eastern Hemisphere and we want to do global change. That’s the whole point of the Why Not You Foundation, we want to have an impact all over the world.”
Sherman’s own charity, Blanket Coverage, tries to help low-income students by providing them with clothing and school supplies. To support his cause, Sherman will rock a pair of lime green cleats plastered with his foundation’s logo.
Sherman said to Seahawks.com: “A great education, a chance to further their education and get the opportunities at jobs — it’s hard to get a job without at least a bachelor’s nowadays — so to get a kid excited about school and not worried about where their pens and pencils and backpacks, things like that, necessities for school, are going to come from is a real relief because not every parent can afford to provide them with everything they need for various reasons.”
Avril, too, has a charity of his own that he will support on Sunday night. On one blue and red cleat, he’ll feature the Cliff Avril Family Foundation. On the other will be the Juvenile Diabetes Research Center; both of which help combat Type 2 diabetes.
The cause hits particularly close to home for Avril because of how hard Type 2 diabetes hits the Haitian community, of which he hails. To honor that community, his cleat also features the Haitian flag on one side.
“Diabetes is prevalent in the Haitian community, but everyone from my mom to my aunties has it, so that’s kind of why it plays a big part, and then I took it to juvenile diabetes once I started having my kids,” Avril told Seahawks.com. “Haiti is where it all started for me. Giving back in the way of education I think is very important because I feel like education is key to keeping them on the right track.”
Graham and Baldwin don’t have foundations of their own, but will be honoring other causes they feel passionately about. Graham’s black cleats will be emblazoned with a pair of white wings, for Angel Flight Soars, a charity that provides air transportation for live-saving medical procedures for those who can’t afford it.
Baldwin’s cleats might be the boldest of all, with a tiger stripe pattern, replete in all orange and black. It hearkens back to Baldwin’s youth football days to support the Southern Sports Youth Association, which helps children in need through community, students and staff.