EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. –The Vikings will be fighting for worthy causes while fighting for a win over the Falcons.
More than 15 Vikings players on Wednesday unveiled custom-designed cleats they will don when suiting up for Sunday's game at Atlanta. The cleats are painted to represent respective causes of the players' choice and are part of the NFL's "My Clause, My Cleats" initiative.
Among the causes represented are some players' personal foundations or charities, including Anthony Barr's Raise the Barr Foundation, which supports single mothers, and Brian Robison's Reel 'Em In Foundation, which raises funds for K9s4Cops and security in schools.
"I like [this initiative] because it gives us an opportunity to use our platform to really raise awareness for our various foundations," Robison said. "For me, it allows me to use my platform on the stage of an NFL football game and raise awareness not only for my foundation but for K9s4COPs."
Robison's teammate, Everson Griffen, is adding a second program to his cleats shortly after welcoming his third son to the Griffen family.
More than 15 Vikings on Wednesday unveiled custom-designed cleats they will don for Sunday's game at Atlanta. The cleats are part of the NFL's 'My Clause, My Cleats' initiative.
Griffen is a long-time supporter of the American Cancer Society in honor of his mother-in-law, a breast cancer survivor, but this season he is also representing Perspectives, a supportive housing organization that benefits Twin Cities families through various resources.
"I've been very blessed to have three healthy boys, and now seeing the kids that are less fortunate, it really gives me an open heart to help them and put a smile on their face," Griffen said. "I want to get involved more with it."
While customized cleats are generally not allowed during games, a league-wide exception was made for this week's games so that players can draw attention to charitable organizations they support throughout the season.
Below is the current list of Vikings who will raise awareness with the help of their cleats:
LB Anthony Barr |Raise the Barr Foundation| Single mother support
Raised by a single mother himself, Barr started his foundation to "break the cycle of poverty for low-income, single-parent families" by providing resources for single parents to access a post-secondary education or certification.
G Joe Berger |Team Keegan| Pediatric cancer
"A neighbor that I grew up with, his [son Keegan] went through a ton of cancer treatments, and through that, they wanted to do something to just help support the kids," Berger said. "So they started Team Keegan, where they make these prize boxes and treasure chests, so that when a kid goes through treatment, they get a little reward out of the box after each treatment."
WR Stefon Diggs |American Heart Association| Heart disease
Diggs especially enjoyed the artist's touch of a painted EKG reading on the side of his cleats.
"These are one-of-a-kind. I like these, a lot," Diggs said. "My dad and my grandmother passed away from heart problems, so I always dedicate my cleats to them and everybody else in the world with heart problems. I try to play with a lot of heart, so I hold it close to me."
DE Everson Griffen |American Cancer Society* / Perspectives| Breast cancer / Kids Café*
Griffen chose his cleats to "represent the people that we love." Griffen's mother-in-law is a breast cancer survivor, and he has been a long-term supporter of the American Cancer Society. He also added a second cause, Perspectives, this season.
"Kids are our future," Griffen said. "Actually, I'm going to start linking up with them on a bigger level … They have Kids Café and provide them with food after school and [breakfast and lunch] during the summer."
LB Eric Kendricks |The Sheridan Story/ Sacks for Kids | Childhood hunger
LB Emmanuel Lamur | Lamur Family Charity | Haiti relief and support for underprivileged youth
"We're just bringing awareness to underprivileged kids, to support them and bring them hope," Lamur said. "We know that youth is the future, so we just have to be there for them and support them."
Lamur's cleats also depict the Bible verse Corinthians 10:31 to represent his Christian faith and the Haitian flag to honor his heritage.
LS Kevin McDermott | Suicide Prevention /NOverdose| Suicide prevention
McDermott has partnered with the Hennepin County Sheriff's Department to fight against overdoses in Minneapolis and the surrounding communities.
Rhodes has recently gotten more involved with MATTER because of its work to promote health and nutrition for Twin Cities youth. He has been a long-time supporter of Kidz1stFund, a nonprofit started by Rhodes' coach at Florida State, Jimbo Fisher, and his wife in response to their son's battle with Fanconi Anemia.
New this year for Rhodes is Northside Boxing Club, which seeks to affect positive change in North Minneapolis youth through boxing and physical fitness.
"That's just about kids who are less fortunate, just giving back to those kids and letting them know that their dream is still alive," Rhodes said. "You can fight through anything to accomplish your dreams, as long as you still believe."
DE Brian Robison | Reel 'Em In Foundation | K9s4COPs/schools
Vikings fans will recognize Robison's foundation as well as the organization that it directly supports. Robison is encouraging fans to stay tuned during the offseason for a chance to bid on the game-worn cleats.
"I'm going to wear both of these pairs – probably one the first half and one the second half of the game. Next year for K9s4COPs and the Brian Robison Reel 'Em In Foundation, I'm going to auction these off."
TE Kyle Rudolph |U of M Masonic Children's Hospital/ *Starkey Foundation| Children's health*
Rudolph is once again supporting a pair of organizations near and dear to his heart. In addition to supporting the U of M Masonic Children's Hospital and the Kyle Rudolph End Zone set to open in December, Rudolph also is representing the Starkey Foundation.
"I started working with Starkey my rookie year; I actually went to their gala before my first training camp here, and I got to see all the great work they were doing," Rudolph said. "I've been on countless missions and seen the work firsthand. Not only do they impact lives here in the Twin Cities but all over the world. I'm extremely honored to have both them and [the hospital] on my cleats this week."
S Harrison Smith |Big Brothers Big Sisters| Mentorship
Smith is continuing his support of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Twin Cities. The Vikings safety annually holds various activities in order to connect with the program's youth and raise awareness and funds.
WR Adam Thielen |Bolder Options| Mentorship
Thielen will again wear cleats to spotlight Bolder Options, an organization focused on healthy youth development. The organization specifically focuses on supporting students who are at-risk for dropping out of school or demonstrating unhealthy behavior. Bolder Options offers a comprehensive mentoring program, wellness activities and leadership opportunities for youth.
WR Laquon Treadwell |Greater Twin Cities United Way| UWHH \ NFL Play60
Treadwell will highlight the Greater Twin Cities United Way, which seeks to build pathways out of poverty and improve individual lives and the community as a whole.
CB Trae Waynes |Humane Society| pet adoption
One of Waynes' three dogs, Ares, is depicted on the cleats he will wear Sunday to raise awareness for animal shelters.
"Every single one of my dogs is a rescue – one I actually picked up in the street, [it was] dodging traffic, back in college," Waynes said.
DE Stephen Weatherly |One Love Foundation| Domestic abuse
Weatherly's cleats will bear the name of Yeardley Love, who was tragically murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 2010. The One Love Foundation was started by Yeardley's mother and sister to honor Yeardly's memory and educate young people and communities about unhealthy relationship behaviors.
"The One Love Foundation is about raising awareness and actually does training to recognize relationship violence," Weatherly said. "Hopefully when you see One Love and you see Yeardley's name, it will spark some conversation and some talk about [domestic violence] … which is my overall objective for this."