Spread over last weekend and the approaching weekend, the NFL is allowing its players to wear customized spikes promoting various causes. SB Nation Outsports is miffed that no NFL players have ever chosen to wear LGBTQ-specific shoes for the My Cause My Cleats promotion and, to its chagrin, three players chose to support the so-called anti-gay Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA).
Cody Davis of the Patriots, Koda Martin of the Cardinals and Case Keenum of the Browns all opted to wear cleats promoting FCA. Writing for Outsports, Cyd Zeigler says their choice of cleats is undoubtedly focused on the group’s support of coaches and the advancement of Christianity in sports, but uses “anti-gay language” about marriage and sex in its core statements of faith.:
“We believe God’s design for sexual intimacy is to be expressed only within the context of marriage, that God created man and woman to complement and complete each other. God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.”
Player support for the “anti-gay Christian organization” does not necessarily mean these athletes are anti-gay, Zeigler says. “Frankly, a lot of people don’t realize how anti-gay and damaging FCA is for the community. Of course, they may know this is part of the group and simply don’t care.”
The lack of players embracing LGBTQ-specific causes may lead people to think NFL players are homophobic, but there’s zero correlation of that, Zeigler contends. They “doesn’t mean they reject gay people.”
Zeiger writes of an uphill battle to convince straight athletes to prioritize LGBTQ causes. Baseball pitcher Sean Doolittle, NHL player Kurtis Gabriel and Reggie Bullock of the NBA are doing that, but the NFL just doesn’t have such a player.
“All of us who advocate for LGBTQ+ issues remain hopeful that individual players will pick up this cause, as has happened so often in other leagues,” said Brian Kitts, co-founder of You Can Play. “Each of these causes carries a personal and emotional meaning for the players and we know that some of them will one day think it’s important enough to support their LGBTQ siblings, friends, fans and teammates.”
Outsports is hoping that in 2021, NFL athletes jump on the LGBTQ bandwagon for My Cleats My Cause observance.
On the other hand, Outsports is elated that four players chose to wear cleats promoting the ACLU, “which includes LGBTQ rights and HIV as priorities.” Thirty-three players chose Black Lives Matter themes (see Russell Wilson’s George Floyd shoes above and a video on this below).
This media spotlight on causes also revealed how steeped the NFL organization is in virtue signaling its support for the LGBTQ movement. There’s NFL Pride — the league’s LGBTQ employee resource group pushing for equality, and the league partners with You Can Play, GLAAD, The Trevor Project and “other worthy” nonprofits dedicated to LGBTQ causes, Zeigler says. Cleats highlighting Stomp Out Bullying, an organization tackling homophobia, is another group with NFL support.
GLAAD spokesman Spencer Harvey told Outsports , “The NFL players who spoke out for marriage equality years ago had a hugely positive impact and today’s players have a similar opportunity to grow understanding of other LGBTQ issues.
“Just a few weeks ago, the NFL powerfully addressed LGBTQ people on National Coming Out Day and stood with LGBTQ youth on Spirit Day. It is time for more players to join the NFL in publicly standing with the LGBTQ community and seizing the opportunity to use their platforms to grow LGBTQ acceptance.”
Among other specially made cleats for this event is a pair of global warming-themed shoes by Cleveland‘s D’Ernest Johnson, who says the Great Lakes and Florida are already suffering from this phantom crisis. Lane Johnson, of Philadelphia, is supporting the military troops.