The NFL’s My Cause, My Cleats campaign is entering its fifth year, and the New England Patriots are once again actively participating: 22 members of the organization — including head coach Bill Belichick — will be wearing customized cleats to raise awareness for charitable causes of their choice. Those cleats will later be auctioned off, with proceeds going to each participants’ selected cause.
Cornerback Stephon Gilmore is also among those to wear special footwear as he unveiled on social media earlier this week.
The league’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year will support the Gilmore Family Foundation with shoes designed by Miami-based company Soles By Sir. Those cleats are not just featuring drawings by Gilmore’s 5-year-old son, Sebastian, but also a letter the Patriots’ star defender wrote in the aftermath of the George Floyd murder at the hand Minnesota police offers earlier this year.
The letter, via Complex’s Zach Frydenlund, reads as follows:
I know you’re only five years old, but by the time you’re able to fully understand the words on this page, I hope you don’t have to experience the ugly truth within my answer to your innocent question. I pray that it gets better very soon so you and Gisele don’t have to experience this.
I hope you know your mom and I will always be here to love you, guide you, and protect you to the best of our ability. Why do people keep saying Black Lives Matter Because they do son.
Sadly, people who look like you and me and mommy and Gisele, aren’t treated nice all the time. Those same people are angry towards us and want to hurt us, but we don’t deserve it. Why? I don’t fully know son. Our would be a better place if we led with love and kindness, like we try to teach you and your sister. Black lives matter because a little Black boy like you with beautiful Black skin, is just as important as another boy or girl with lighter skin or even with blue skin.
We say “Black Lives Matter” as a reminder that we are still here through the challenges, and to give attention to the violence experienced by our Black brothers and sisters. We matter. We are teachers, professional athletes, fathers, businessmen, lawyers, doctors, and garbage truck drivers. Bash, you too will make the world go round. I pray for a day that you say those words in pure joy and free from sadness. Black Lives Matter.
Gilmore has been actively involved in the social protests that erupted after Floyd’s killing. The fourth-year Patriot, for example, was among a group of players appearing in a 70-second video released in early June that urged the NFL to condemn racism and admit that silencing pre-game protests was wrong.
During a media conference call on Wednesday, he also spoke about his involvement in the league’s My Cause, My Cleats campaign and the meaning behind his cleats.
“It meant a lot to me,” the 30-year-old father of two said. “My son, he asks a lot of questions, very observant, so I feel like we have to set a good example for our kids — having those tough conversations with our kids about how the world is right now and how we’re trying to fix it so the world can be a better place.”
For a full list of charitable causes supported by the organization during this year’s “My Cause, My Cleats” campaign, please head over to the Patriots’ website.