Bears coach Matt Nagy and more than 20 players will participate in the NFL's "My Cause My Cleats" initiative, which provides them a platform to share stories about the charitable causes that are most important to them.
The Bears players will wear the specially-designed cleats Thursday night during pregame warmups and/or in-game when they face the Dallas Cowboys at Soldier Field. The following are three personal stories about Bears players and their charitable causes:
• Safety Eddie Jackson's cleats will raise awareness for the Remain to Reach Foundation that he created last year. The organization aims to inspire and provide resources to at-risk youth who have been in trouble with the law.
Jackson is driven to help kids who have been imprisoned change the course of their lives and take advantage of second chances.
"I just want to show them that it's never too late," Jackson said. "A lot of kids feel discouraged when they go into the juvenile system or the criminal justice system. They feel like it's too late or they can't do this because of how people view them or just because of their criminal background. I want to show them that it's never too late. You can continue to chase and reach for your goals."
Jackson created his foundation after seeing friends he grew up with in Florida make poor choices. "It was personal for me," he said. "That was just something I felt really touched close to home with me.
"I grew up around a lot of guys that fell victim to the criminal justice system at a young age. And that came from them feeling like they had to be the man of the house and provide for their families. If you see your friend bringing home $100,000 [illegally] and you and your family are struggling—your mom is breaking her back working—you're going to fall down that path doing negative things. It's just tough."
• The cleats that defensive tackle Nick Williams will wear Thursday night will honor the U.S. Army and his late grandfather, a private first class who fought in the Korean War and passed away two and a half years ago.
"I just wanted to pay tribute to him," Williams said. "I was very close to my grandfather. He always encouraged me to play football and just be happy with life. He was very encouraging in that aspect."
Given his relationship with his grandfather, Williams possesses a special appreciation for the men and women who serve in the armed forces.
"My hat's off to them," Williams said. "They do a great job protecting this country and protecting our freedom. I'm all for the military. They do a great job. We're very fortunate to have them serve for us."
• Offensive lineman Ted Larsen will wear cleats against the Cowboys that honor the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago.
Larsen chose the hospital because he has a special appreciation for facilities that treat premature babies. His oldest child, 4-year-old Charlotte, was born four weeks early and briefly was cared for in neonatal intensive care unit at the Scottsdale Shea Medical Center in Arizona.
"I feel like it's something that's kind of overlooked until you're in that situation and then you realize how good of a job those people do," Larsen said.
Other Bears participating in the My Cause My Cleats initiative include:
- Prince Amukamara, Others Foundation
- Alex Bars, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
- Ben Braunecker, Benson M. Abercrombie '21 Fund
- Deon Bush, Doby's Dream
- Leonard Floyd, Bears Care
- Taylor Gabriel, Lisa Colagrossi Foundation
- DeAndre Houston-Carson, ORPHANetwork
- Khalil Mack, Lupus Foundation of America
- Matt Nagy, Snow City Arts
- Bilal Nichols, Cancer awareness
- Pat O'Donnell, Ross K. MacNeill Foundation
- Eddy Piñeiro, Core Cares
- Roy Robertson-Harris, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago
- Allen Robinson II, Allen Robinson's Within Reach Foundation
- Patrick Scales, Colleen's Dream Foundation
- Bradley Sowell, Girls on the Run
- Mitchell Trubisky, Thumbs Up Mission
- Cody Whitehair, Youth Entrepreneurs
- Javon Wims, Breast cancer awareness
- Josh Woods, Jordan McNair Foundation
When the Bears return to Soldier Field for their game Thursday against the Dallas Cowboys, some of the players will be in special footwear. Take an exclusive look at the spikes that will be worn to support charitable organizations of each player's choice.