My Cause, My Cleats initiative has year-round purpose for players like Dawuane Smoot

Dawuane Smoot signs an autograph at an event for the Better Dads Society. That group was the focal point of Smoot's 'My Cause, My Cleats' choice this month. (Jamal St. Cyr, News4JAX)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Instead of wearing their hearts on their sleeves, NFL players get a chance to do it somewhere else.

The league’s ‘My Cause my Cleats’ week is a chance for players to support causes that are close to them while they are on the field. For many players and coaches, what they elect to wear during Week 13 games carries a personal meaning to them.

Jaguars defensive end Dawuane Smoot is representing the Better Dads Society this year. It’s an organization that Smoot supports more than just on his cleats but with his time. Smoot said his wife was a big reason he originally got involved with Better Dads Society four years ago.

“Best decision she ever made,” Smoot said.

Jaguars defensive end Dawuane Smoot's custom shoes honor the Better Dads Society. (News4JAX)

Better Dad’s purpose is to “teach men to be the best fathers they can be and to equip them with the tools needed to properly lead their families.”

Byron Robinson the president of the Better Dads Society, said having Smoot involved has been a blessing. Smoot has been involved for the last four years. Robinson said that having a player like Smoot around is “an awesome thing.”

As part of his work with Better Dads, Smoot took over 150 local kids to see “Black Panther 2” earlier this month.

“I just hope they feel empowered, you know, that they can achieve anything,” Smoot said. “You know, watching this is definitely an inspiration, you know, so I just want them to feel empowered, for sure.”

Players aren’t the only one who will be wearing some special footwear on Sunday.

Doug Pederson’s shoes will be close to his heart. Pederson  and his entire family will be wearing special shoes to bring awareness to pancreatic cancer, a disease that affected his family. Pederson’s brother, Craig, died from pancreatic cancer.

“[It] brings awareness to what I dealt with, with my brother and, and going through that with my family,” Pederson said. “And, so, my wife and I, you know, our whole family is going to have shoes on, to bring awareness to that, and obviously, to remember my brother, during this time, but everybody’s got something that they can sort of hang their hat on, a cause of some sort.”

Doug Pederson's custom 'My Cause, My Cleats' shoes honor his brother Craig, who died from pancreatic cancer. (News4JAX)

About the Author:

Jamal St. Cyr is an award-winning sports anchor who joined the News4Jax sports team in 2019.