My Cause, My Cleats is an NFL initiative that encourages coaches and players to wear custom cleats, highlighting organizations and issues that are important to them. Patriots.com will be highlighting stories throughout the month. Many of the cleats will be put up for auction, with all proceeds benefitting the chosen charities. You can learn more about all Patriots My Cause, My Cleats here.
My Cause, My Cleats is a chance for players across the NFL to step into the light to champion something they are truly passionate about, and Shilique Calhoun saw it as an opportunity to shatter a stigma and let people know they are not alone.
Calhoun is representing Fathers' Uplift, a Dorchester based organization that provides "mental health counseling, coaching and advocacy for fathers with overcoming barriers," like racisms, trauma and addiction, according to its website. By helping fathers process and grow, the hope is that it will heal families and create strong communities through love and encouragement.
Growing up, Calhoun said he had trouble connecting with his father, and with depression running in his immediate family, Fathers' Uplift was a perfect choice.
"My Cause, My Cleats is something where we can kind of step out and say, 'This is personal to me and more near and dear to me.' This organization actually touches on exactly something that I have been through and I am going through," Calhoun said. "It honestly gives me hope that we can do more for the people around us. We can do more for the father's that need help and that want help."
Though Calhoun is currently on injured reserve, he shared his cleats on Instagram with a powerful message and lyrics from J. Cole's "Breakdown." One side reads, "This too shall pass," while the other reads, "It's never bad."
These are two defining phrases for how Calhoun carries himself and lives his life.
"This too shall pass is one of those things that I truly believe in. When you're in that state of mind where you feel like nothing is going right and you can't seem to get things together, you have to remember that this is only a moment in time," Calhoun said. "There's so much time in our lives that we haven't spent yet or we've already been through that we don't even realize sometimes in that moment of sorrow and that moment of hurt. It's only in this moment. This too shall pass."
In his own everyday life, Calhoun is boisterous. He is often smiling, joking around and bringing a positive energy to whatever room he walks into. This natural disposition is also with purpose.
Calhoun recalls hearing a story in middle school of a kid who walked to a bridge with the intent to end his life. He wrote a note that said if one person said hi to him on the way to the bridge, he wouldn't jump, but no one did.
This story changed Calhoun at a fundamental level.
"If you see me out and about, I'm normally smiling," Calhoun said. "Always a smile on my face or I'm trying to tell a joke because I just feel like there is so much that we don't know going on in other people's lives. If we can spare a moment of our happiness to give to someone else, it can have such an effect on their lives. My outlook is that I choose to be happy and then I choose to give my happiness to others as well so I can uplift them."
While in his interactions, Calhoun spreads love and positivity, he also understands there is much more work that needs to be done. The stigma attached to mental health struggles is still prevalent, but he is hoping to help break it .
"In my community, the Black community and the male community I would say more so, you don't speak of those issues. You don't speak of being depressed. You're not sad. Men don't get sad. Men don't cry," Calhoun said. "We need to break that mold because it's leading to so much more than just people being just depressed in the moment. It's leading to them having other problems because they are unable to express their feelings within that moment."
This year has been difficult for everyone, and even those who might not normally feel depressed or anxious may be going through it. Calhoun said the most important thing for anyone to do in those moments is to find resources and find people to confide in, like Fathers' Uplift.
"[Don't] hide and bottle it up, or find different resources that help you. Fathers' Uplift Inc. is one of the resources," Calhoun said. "I believe for fathers, they can go and reach out to them and gain a better connection with their feelings with what's going on around them to accept what's happening in their lives and try to make a change for it."
You can look at all of the Patriots cleats in the gallery below. To place a bid on Patriots cleats, you can check out the NFL auction page here.
For the fifth straight season, the New England Patriots are participating in the NFL's 'My Cause My Cleats' campaign, which gives both players and coaches the opportunity to wear cleats that are designed to promote a cause important to them. Here's a look at the Patriots' custom cleats.