There are so many NFL players whose passions go far beyond the football field and the game. For so many active and former professional athletes, giving back is not only a way to show our gratitude for the careers and lives we have, but it’s also the key to unifying our communities. And with this year’s NFL charitable campaign, #MyCauseMyCleats, I get to combine two of my favorite things: football and supporting a cause that is near and dear to my heart. During Week 13 games in the regular NFL season, players will represent hundreds of charitable organizations when they unveil cleats they’ve had customized for the campaign by sharing images and the stories behind them on social media using the hashtag #MyCauseMyCleats. (Check out New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley debuting his custom cleats on GMA Day.)
Since I’m no longer on the field, I revealed my custom cleats on FOX NFL Sunday along with my cause: The Pat Tillman Foundation. I’m a big supporter of active and former military service members, and this organization has a remarkable story: A starting safety in his rookie season for the Arizona Cardinals, Pat Tillman put his all-star NFL career on hold to serve his country following the attacks on 9/11. He enlisted in the U.S. Army with his brother, Kevin, and they were assigned to the second battalion of the 75th Ranger Regiment. They served tours in Iraq and in Afghanistan, where Pat was tragically killed in battle. His family and friends founded the Pat Tillman Foundation with a $1.25 million pledge from Tillman’s alma mater, Arizona State University. Led by a boarded headed by Pat’s wife Marie, the organization unites and empowers military veterans and spouses through academic scholarships, a national network, and professional development opportunities to become the next generation of public and private sector leaders committed to service beyond self. You can learn more about the foundation’s work and Pat’s incredible personal story here.
“Somewhere inside, we hear a voice. It leads us in the direction of who we wish to become. But it is up to us whether or not to follow.” —Pat Tillman
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