The 2019 season marks the fourth year that the Washington Redskins are participating in the NFL's "My Cause, My Cleats" initiative.
On Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, select Redskins players will wear custom-designed cleats representing numerous non-profit organizations to bring awareness to causes they are passionate about. Fans can support the cause that means the most to them while attending the game by purchasing tickets, HERE.
The Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation will then auction off the cleats, with all proceeds benefiting the player's charity of choice. Fans can bid for the cleats, HERE (bidding available through Thursday, Dec. 19).
Ahead of the Week 15 showdown at FedExField, Dwayne Haskins Jr., Jonathan Allen, Adrian Peterson and Terry McLaurin discussed the causes they chose to support, the stories behind those causes and how their cleats carry out the message they are trying to get across.
For more information on all of the Redskins players participating, visit Redskins.com/MyCauseMyCleats.
Rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. has always had a passion for dogs. He's had one since he was a little kid growing up in New Jersey, and now he and his girlfriend have two together.
"Dogs are a man's best friend," Haskins said. "We just love spending time with them -- they bring a whole bunch of energy -- and they make my day brighter."
Due to his love for dogs, Haskins has focused his support on raising awareness for Wolf Trap Animal Rescue, an organization that aims to support a life-saving foster, transport, and adoption program which was developed in order to rescue young animals in danger of euthanization.
Fans can support the cause in a variety of ways, Haskins said. In addition to donating, Haskins is encouraging people to take stray dogs to animal shelters and even bring one home themselves. "A lot of dogs need homes, and being able to have a dog and a companion in your life will definitely bring some happiness to you."
Haskins' loves his customized cleats, which are high-top Jordan 1s with an emerald and blue color scheme and a picture of his 2-year-old Dobermann, Roscoe.
"He's a very majestic animal -- he looks the part -- and I'm just really excited to be able to wear these and give back to the community."
Redskins defensive lineman Jonathan Allen said one word about what it was like living in a homeless shelter: tough.
For then 7-year-old Allen, it was a harsh reality. Long before he was an All-American at Alabama and a stalwart along the Redskins' defensive front, he was living in a homeless shelter without much family to speak of besides his older brother, who was adopted two weeks before him.
The experience had a lasting effect on Allen, who grew up in Ashburn, Virginia. And he knew that as soon as he had the opportunity, he would do whatever he could to help youths who are in a similar situation.
As a part of the My Cause, My Cleats initiative, Allen has chosen to support Sasha Bruce Youthwork, which is a nonprofit organization "dedicated to improving the lives of youth and families in the Washington DC area."
It was an easy choice for Allen, who recently unveiled an innovation lounge at The Bruce House in Northeast Washington, D.C. The space aims to help kids interact with one another and engage in schoolwork and employment readiness skills.
"I wanted to give back, not only to be an example for the kids and show them that there is positivity that can come from it or you can make something of your life," Allen said. "I also wanted to make their life just a little bit easier, because I know they have so many struggles and inconsistencies, and I just want to be a good spark for them in their life."
Bullying has personally affected Redskins running back Adrian Peterson on several occasions.
Growing up in Texas, Peterson sought to protect soft-spoken older brother, who was often picked on because of his nerdy persona. Then, about a year ago, his young son came home from school and told Peterson that a student two grades older than him was trying to bully him. The incident motivated Peterson even more to bring awareness to this issue.
As a part of the My Cause, My Cleats initiative, Peterson is supporting the Adrian & Ashley Peterson Foundation, which him and his wife founded to improve quality of life and transform communities through resources and economic development. He's specifically focused on aiding bully prevention programs in schools around the Washington Metropolitan area.
"When people think of bullying, they automatically go to the physical aspect of it. But it can be bullying being vocal as well and how you treat or handle someone."
Peterson said more people must speak up about bullying instead of shying away from it. This is a problem that can happen anytime, anywhere and to anyone, Peterson added, and the world needs more leaders to handle what's become a grave situation.
"As I grew up getting into middle school and high school, I was always able to seek out the people that I saw getting bullied because how they dressed or how they looked or maybe because they were a little anti-social. I always tried to put my wings around them."
Peterson's cleats have a "fresh" look, but more importantly they deliver a good message about bully prevention, he said. The cleats are covered with phrases such as "see something, say something," "hope not hate," "say no to bullying" and "be proud." There are also pictures of bullies and bully victims from various cartoons, which Peterson said creates a visual depiction of the severity surrounding his cause.
"You look around the world and you hear so many different stories and cases about people being bullied," Peterson said. "And for some it leads to some tragic incidents, where people are getting hurt and hurting themselves."
Redskins rookie receiver Terry McLaurin has prioritized academics throughout his journey to the NFL. He starred for Cathedral High School in Indianapolis while enduring a rigorous course load. He was a two-time captain at Ohio State, yet still graduated in three-and-a-half years and completed several internships.
He already has a bachelor's degree in communications, and he's just a semester away from earning a second degree in sociology.
McLaurin understands the importance of an education, so much so that he's supporting Youth Entrepreneurs as a part of the My Cause, My Cleats initiative. Youth Entrepreneurs is a hands-on, experimental program for educators to help set up students for success in the classroom and in real life. As a partner of the organization, McLaurin has sought to inspire and push students to new heights, helping them achieve whatever dreams they've set for themselves.
"I always saw myself as someone who helped people and helped others, and what better way to help the youth than to push for education and programs that really give them the life skills and the tools to be successful," McLaurin told NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay. "A lot of people have dreams and goals, but I feel like Youth Entrepreneurs really gives them the tools to be successful."
Other Redskins participating in My Cause, My Cleats include:
- Troy Apke (American Liver Foundation)
- Tony Bergstrom (Loads of Love)
- Quinton Dunbar (National Alliance for Mental Illness)
- Deshazor Everett (American Diabetes Association/Brem Foundation)
- Ereck Flowers (American Cancer Society)
- Cole Holcomb (Thumbs Up Mission)
- Dustin Hopkins (Loads of Love)
- Matt Ioannidis (Wolf Trap Animal Rescue)
- Case Keenum (Fellowship of Christian Athletes)
- Ryan Kerrigan (Leukemia and Lymphoma Society)
- Wes Martin (Brave Breed Rescue Inc.)
- Cassanova McKinzy (Autism Speaks)
- Fabian Moreau (Alzheimer's Association)
- Jimmy Moreland (M.A.D.D. (Mothers against Drunk Driving))
- Daron Payne (American Sickle Cell Anemia Association)
- Donald Penn (Donald Penn Foundation)
- Brandon Scherff (Aiming For a Cure Foundation)
- Steven Sims Jr. (Brem Foundation)
- Wendell Smallwood (Boys and Girls Club)
- Greg Stroman (American Sickle Cell Anemia Association)
- Nick Sundberg (Loads of Love)
- Montez Sweat (Brem Foundation)
- Tress Way (Loads of Love)
Check out all of the players' cleats and learn more about their charitable causes, HERE.