Jacksonville, FL - At a time when the National Football League’s TV ratings and attendance have dropped to a new low in the aftermath of anti-police protests, one NFL player is shining a positive light on public safety first responders.
The NFL’s “My Cause, My Cleats” initiative, which allows the players to wear shoes that spotlight a charity, takes place this weekend, and Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback, Blake Bortles, will be wearing specially-designed cleats representing Jacksonville’s police and firefighters.
“I played Pop Warner and it was all volunteer coaches and it was kind of like the rule or a thing where you weren’t allowed to coach your kid - all our coaches were guys that we necessarily didn’t know and the majority of them were cops or firefighters or paramedics or some type of first responder,” Bortles said in a video that was posted on the Jaguars’ website.
“That’s where I was exposed to that area. Any opportunity I get to try and help support those guys and really with anything they need, I try to take advantage of it,” Bortles said.
He said he has “an extreme passion” for helping first responders, and the mentally disabled.
Other teammates have chosen to wear cleats that showcase support for military veterans.
Eli Ankou is wearing cleats to support veteran’s appreciation, with an U.S. Air Force jet and U.S. Navy vessel on them
“I want to show appreciation for the vets that sacrificed such a huge part of their lives to serve,” Ankou said.
Jacksonville’s Abry Jones and William Poehls will both wear cleats highlighting the Wounded Warrior Project.
Teammate Paul Posluszny is wearing cleats that honor the Pat Tillman Foundation.
Tillman was a NFL player who gave up millions in dollars to join the U.S. Army after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and was killed in Afghanistan.