RENTON — The people, places and organizations that Seahawks players and personnel have chosen to honor and bring awareness to during the NFL’s annual “My Cause, My Cleats” this weekend run the gamut.
There’s offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer honoring his famous coach of a father by wearing tennis shoes bearing the logo of the Alzheimer’s Association, a disease Marty Schottenheimer has battled for a few years.
There’s general manager John Schneider wearing tennis shoes bearing the logo of the foundation, Ben’s Fund, he started with his wife, Traci, an organization named after his son that helps families with children who have autism.
There’s defensive end Branden Jackson, who this year is wearing cleats bearing the colors of the National Women’s Law Center in honor of his mom, who raised him as a single mother (and look even more closely and you can see the lyrics of the Tupac song “Keep Your Head Up,’’ a song about, in part, young, black women dealing with and persevering in the face of abusive relationships).
There’s defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson, who decided to give his cleats over to some of the local teenagers who are part of Seattle-based Creative Justice, a King County-funded program that uses art projects as an alternative to youth incarceration, who came back with a cleat featuring portraits of noted civil rights figures such as Rosa Parks and Malcolm X, among others.
There’s linebacker Cody Barton, a native of Salt Lake City whose cleats detail Utah outdoor scenes (the more desert-like south on one shoe, the more mountainous north on the other) bringing attention to the Wild Utah Project, which helps fund conservation and other similar efforts.
And there’s quarterback Russell Wilson, wearing cleats honoring his “Why Not You?’’ Foundation.
A few players tried out the cleats in practice Thursday and will wear them Sunday in what is the third year of the “My Cause, My Cleats’’ program.
The shoes will then be auctioned off through NFL Auction, with the league stating that 100 percent of the proceeds will go to the cause chosen by the player. Roughly 30 Seahawks players and a handful of others associated with the team will take part.
“I think it’s a great deal,’’ said left tackle Duane Brown, whose cause this year is the American Diabetes Association, a disease that has affected his mother, grandmother and an uncle. “A lot of us, we come from all walks of life, and we all have things that are special to us, things that we care about, things that inspire us, reasons that we play, all types of things. Having ‘My Cause, My Cleats’ is a way to display that. Display things that are important to you, things that inspire you, things that may have affected you in your lifetime or affected those close to you, or affect our world as a whole. It’s very special they do that.”
Schottenheimer is one of three with the Seahawks who have chosen the Alzheimer’s Association, the others being offensive lineman Mike Iupati and linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven, who each also have relatives impacted by the disease.
Schottenheimer’s father was an NFL head coach for 21 years and is now 76 and living in Charlotte. Brian Schottenheimer said he had never before taking part in the weekend but decided to this year due to his father’s worsening condition.
“It’s really changed our family dynamics,’’ Brian Schottenheimer said of his father’s illness. “… It kind of woke me up saying I need to do more. I want to do more, and I’m excited to do more.’’
Jackson’s cause the past two years was also the American Diabetes Foundation.
But he said thoughts of his mother, with whom he said he is especially close, compelled him to change to the National Women’s Law Center this year.
“It’s crazy that it’s 2019 and we’ve still got this glass ceiling for women,’’ Jackson said. So he chose to try to bring awareness to the NWLC, a Washington D.C.- based non-profit that advocates for women’s rights.
Jefferson last year honored the Jordan McNair Foundation, a non-profit started by the family of a football player at Maryland — Jefferson’s alma mater — who died due to complications of heat stroke during conditioning, and also had as a cause victims of gun violence.
But this year, Jefferson looked closer to his new home for a cause.
“Art has always been a big interest to me and I was just thinking of ways to involve that with my cause,’’ he said.
Jefferson said he heard about Creative Justice through people associated with the team.
“I like the stuff they were doing taking kids who were incarcerated and just giving them an outlet through art to express themselves and just help to get them on the right track,” he said. “I just told them ‘I’m just going to be the canvas and use me, use my platform to get your guys’ art work out there, let them go to town with it.’’’
The result will be visible for millions to see Sunday night.