For NFL players and fans, the 'My Cause My Cleats' campaign has become one of the best moments of the NFL season. 'My Cause My Cleats' is not only a chance for players to show off creative designs on their cleats, but an opportunity to showcase and raise money for causes closest to their hearts. As the NFL heads into the fourth year of the 'My Cause My Cleats' campaign, the league expects more than 900 players to participate with custom designed cleats during their upcoming week 14 games.
"What makes 'My Cause My Cleats' so special, is that it provides players with an opportunity to bring attention to – and raise awareness and money for – the causes that are closest to their hearts," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said of the campaign.
For Matt Breida and Solomon Thomas of the San Francisco 49ers, they not only have their eyes set on a Super Bowl championship, but they're aiming to bring awareness to two causes that mean everything to them. Both Thomas and Breida have teamed up with the NFL this season to appear in a series of 'My Cause My Cleats' commercials to heighten the awareness for what they're playing for.
In Breida's case, he's playing for the "Fuel Up to Play 60" program, which promotes health and wellness initiatives through in-school activities. "It just means lot being partnered with the NFL and the American Dairy Farmers and just everything that they're doing for kids in school now for 'Fuel Up to Play 60,'" Breida explained to Complex.
For Thomas, his support of the 'American Foundation of Suicide Prevention' is tied to the tragic death of his sister in 2018. "Find ways to keep moving forward with a positive mindset and ways to help change the world," Thomas explained to Complex. "The sad thing about mental health is that if you're not really affected by it, you don't realize how big of a problem it is."
With the 49ers locked in as one of the best teams in the NFL, the spotlight on both Breida and Thomas' 'My Cause My Cleats' campaigns will only shine brighter. The Complex Sports team had the opportunity to speak with both Breida and Thomas during the 'My Cause My Cleats' commercial shoot in San Francisco in November to talk about the causes they're playing for, why the campaign in so important, and becoming the premier team in the Bay Area.
(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
What does 'My Clause My Cleats' mean to you and what you're playing for?
My Cause is 'Fuel Up to Play 60.' It just means lot being partnered with the NFL and the American Dairy Farmers and everything that they're doing for kids in school now. The way that they're empowering kids to go outside and play for at least 60 minutes. And not only that, but also with the nutrition, and having them eat better. And definitely all the wonderful programs that they have. When I was growing up, I saw 'Fuel to Play 60' a lot, in my schools, and it meant a lot to me to be able to just give back to the community. To have that on my cleat is an honor, because I watched guys growing up, who had that on their cleat, and I feel like it means a lot and it's going to push kids to go out and empower themselves.
So I really got involved with suicide prevention and mental health awareness about a year ago. My sister died by suicide and in January. And it was really hard for my family and I. It was just kind of weird and hard situation to get through. We didn't know which way to go, which steps to take. I got involved with an organization called the "American Foundation for Suicide Prevention," and that's really helped us find a path and find us how to walk with our grief and walk through it.
To find ways to keep moving forward with a positive mindset and ways to help change the world. The sad thing about mental health is that if you're not really affected by it, you don't realize how big of a problem it is.
After we were affected by it, just realizing how big a problem all the mental health are and why anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, all of them, and how there's so many affected by them. So many affected by suicide. My DMs are filled with people just trying to talk to me about what they've been through and it's just a crazy, crazy epidemic that our society goes through and that doesn't get enough awareness. I just really want to get involved and help as many people that I can and touch many lives as I can. If I can save one person, save one family from going through what my family had to go through, I'll do whatever I have to do.
So I actually took it upon myself and my family took it upon us to move forward and find a way to help others and help ourselves through this process.
You guys are in the middle of a great season, long way to go, but what has this been like and where will it go from here?
Just keep doing what we've been doing. Schedule is only going to get harder. We definitely have a bullseye on our back now because teams, I feel like, are finally taking us serious. And we just got to take it week by week and keep doing what we're doing.
It's an honor to be a part of this defense and it's a honor to hold the standard that we all have a standard with ourselves. We know how good we can be. And we know how much we can go in and dominate. So it's a every day challenge to ourselves to go out there and prepare, put in the preparation, put in the work to go dominate every Sunday like that every Monday or Thursday, whatever it is.
Just to go out there and play to our standard and keep that upheld because we're doing some special things. But it's only half of the season. So that really doesn't mean anything. We've got to continue to hold that standard through every week.
With the Warriors sort of slipping, you guys are now the "it" team in the Bay. What's that been like?
That energy has been great, especially for the longtime faithful. They've been waiting to have a winning team back here for a while now. And I feel like Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch have done that and we're on our way to bring back a winning franchise. So we've got to continue to keep doing what we've been doing.
I can't even go to the mall now without getting recognized and people want to take autographs and pictures, but at the same time it's a great feeling, because it brings smiles to those people's faces when they see us doing well, it brings up their day, it brings up the week. So it means a lot to us and it means lots of fans.
It's honestly been really cool to see Levi's stadium from the last two years where I've been here to what it looks like now just being full. The energy's infectious. Everyone's going crazy. You love that feeling. So you can definitely tell the Bay, the people are saying the buzz in the Bay's back. So, yeah. You can definitely tell the buzz in the Bay's back.
So we're just trying to keep that rolling because it feels nice. Because the last few years it hasn't been like that at all.