Nearly 50 causes will be represented this year as the Buccaneers take part in their fifth annual My Cause, My Cleats initiative put on by the NFL. The initiative provides players an outlet to bring awareness to charitable efforts of their choice by wearing customized cleats on the national stage of game day.
This year will be a little different because the Buccaneers will be on their bye week when most teams will debut their custom cleats. That won't stop the 57 players and 12 staff members from participating this year, though.
Players had direct input in creating their customized cleats to benefit their chosen causes and will be able to wear them during the team's Week 14 home contest against the Minnesota Vikings. Each cause represented is a direct reflection of charitable initiatives that players hold closest to their hearts.
For the fourth consecutive year, multiple players and football staff will wear cleats with the National CMV Foundation logo in honor of Bucs Director of Player Personnel John Spytek and his family. To be specific, two players and seven staff members ranging from Co-Owner Joel Glazer to General Manager Jason Licht and outside linebackers coach Larry Foote will wear National CMV Foundation shoes and cleats – more than ever before.
Spytek and his wife, Kristen, spearheaded the creation of the foundation, for which Kristen serves as president, in honor of their daughter Evelyn, who passed away from complications due to CMV, or cytomegalovirus, at just two years old. You'll see the inscription '4EVS' on the cleats of left guard Ali Marpet and right guard Alex Cappa come Sunday, December 13 as a tribute to her. You'll also see the emblem on the custom sneakers worn by various staff members on the sidelines.
The campaigns and causes players chose to commemorate vary as greatly as the players themselves. In fact, many have their own foundations and charitable efforts they'll be representing, like outside linebacker Shaq Barrett and his Fifty50 Foundation, which helps advocate for children in the foster care system or wide receiver Mike Evans supporting his Mike Evans Family Foundation The goal of the Mike Evans Family Foundation is to support, empower, encourage and motivate today's youth with an understanding that no goal is unattainable. Wide receiver Chris Godwin will also be supporting his Team Godwin Foundation that provides at-risk animals a second chance through advocacy and financial support.
Tight end Cam Brate will once again be supporting Special Olympics, a cause that has been near and dear to Cam's heart for years. He will be joined by wide receiver Scotty Miller and outside linebacker Anthony Nelson in wearing cleats to honor the nationwide organization.
This year, a record number of more than 1,000 players will participate in the league-wide effort. My Cause, My Cleats officially launches on December 1, otherwise known as Giving Tuesday. NFL clubs and players will continue to unveil cause-inspired cleats throughout the week, while the Buccaneers will unveil their chosen cleats into Week 14.
The player-led campaign began in 2016 and has since provided a platform to bring causes they are most passionate about to the forefront on gameday, according to the NFL. This year's causes include topics such as tackling social injustice, supporting families in the wake of COVID-19, and bridging the digital divide. Out of the total number of participants, 20.5 percent of players selected social justice causes, 17 percent selected causes related to youth and education, while 14 percent of players will support health and wellness-related initiatives.