My Cause My Cleats is an NFL initiative where players can showcase causes that are close to their hearts with custom cleats. The Patriots will wear their custom cleats when they take on the Kansas City Chiefs on Dec. 8, and Patriots.com is taking a look at some of the causes they are choosing to support. Some of these cleats will beavailable for auctionafter the game through the NFL.
If there ever was a through-line for the work Devin McCourty has done with the Players Coalition and on his own, it is this: "Education breaks the cycle." With that phrase in mind and on his cleats, McCourty will represent an organization aimed at breaking the cycle of violence by people in gangs and turning them into leaders and advocates in the Boston area through education, employment and empowerment.
Boston Uncornered is an initiative by College Bound Dorchester, and its goal is to empower "gang-involved young people as the solution to the cycles of violence they drive – targeting neighborhood 'hotspots' of disruption to uncover the full potential of cities," according to its website.
"They want to break the cycle of families and different people that have been incarcerated. They give young adults the opportunity to get an education," McCourty said. "They put money in your pocket, so now that you go get to take classes and you don't have to worry about the financial struggles that a lot of people go through in the inner city and poverty-stricken households where you might go do things that you shouldn't be doing because the family needs money."
Not only is McCourty talking the talk when it comes to showing his support. He's walking the walk -- in cleats designed by someone who is a part of Boston Uncornered. The red cleats include images of a diploma, a graduation cap and, most poignantly, a pair of fists locked down by handcuffs.
"She got to design everything," McCourty said. "Boston Uncornered works with teenagers and young adults who have been in trouble, either gang-related or have been incarcerated. That's why you see the chains, being handcuffed. When you come out, they want to break those chains ... You see the handcuffs being broken. You see the cap. You see the diploma and then right on the front, 'Education breaks the cycle.' I thought it was awesome."
McCourty's cleats aren't the only showcase for Boston Uncornered at Gillette Stadium either. A portrait series featuring people in the program, as well as prominent figures in the Boston area, like Mayor Marty Walsh, Pro Football Hall of Fame journalist Andrea Kremer and more, is on display at Patriot Place. The idea of the installation is to show that all people have been "cornered" by different experiences or circumstances in their life, whether it is gang-related crimes, addiction or another form of struggle.
This idea that people are fundamentally similar, regardless of where they come from, is a cornerstone of the organization, according to Boston Uncornered's Founder and CEO Mark Culliton, and he said having someone like McCourty standing with the program and those who go through it is invaluable.
"So much about what we're doing is connecting two different worlds. Most of these guys have never been to Gillette Stadium, have only seen somebody like Devin on TV. For him to come and spend time with our young people, which he already has, and to be genuinely interested in their story and their journey helps them to understand the potential they have leaders beyond their crews, but as leaders of change," he said. "It's affirming. It gives them incredible energy. It gives them additional credibility within their crew because really when we're serving young people, the change is about what they're going through, but it's really their power to disrupt their crew and change a gang from one that promotes violence to one that promotes peace."
In addition to McCourty's spotlight on Sunday, Boston Uncornered was one of the recipients of the Player Social Justice Fund grants, which awarded the organization $90,000 raised from Patriots players and matched by the Kraft family. Soon enough, Patriots Nation and those tuning into the game on Sunday will see McCourty's appreciation Boston Uncornered's work on full display.
"I actually got to sit down and talk to a couple of different people that have worked in the program or a part of the program and they talked about how education saved their life, just the path they were on and being able to be seen and accepted what they did wrong and then given the opportunity to improve," McCourty said. "I'm honored to be able to wear these cleats and be able to represent Boston Uncornered just because of what they stand for."
You can visit the Uncornered Photo Documentary Project in Lot 4A of Gillette Stadium, near the Pro Shop, as well as throughout Patriot Place until Dec. 16.
Players across league during Week 14 games are wearing custom-made cleats reflecting their commitment to charitable causes that are important to them as part of the NFL's "My Cause My Cleats" campaign. Here's a look at some of the New England Patriots cleats and causes.