My Cause, My Cleats is a chance for players to raise awareness about organizations close to their hearts -- whether local, national or global.
Matthew Slater and his wife attend an annual conference for NFL players and their families, and when representatives from International Justice Mission spoke about their work, he was shocked.
International Justice Mission works to rescue enslaved people all over the world and eliminate the slave trade. To date, they have rescued more than 45,000 adults and children who are "victims of violence, forced labor or sex trafficking," according to its website.
"What they try to do is go into these situations that they've identified and free these people. They try to hopefully help police prosecute and arrest those who are illegally enslaving these folks, as well as try to restore the folks who are transitioning out of being enslaved," Matthew said. "Ultimately their goal is to see this problem, this global epidemic if you will, be done away with altogether. It's a great ministry that my wife and I have partnered up with. Really excited about having the chance to bring a little awareness to and who they are."
Matthew listened as those who had gone on missions to rescue enslaved kids and adults recounted their tales, and he said it was eye opening to learn about.
"They were people who had been in situations, had helped rescue women and children, and you wouldn't think that this stuff was going on in 2018. I think that we're so blessed in the circles that we're in here, but this stuff is going on," Matthew said. "It's going on in America and it's going on globally and it really is eye opening. It really tugged at my heart strings when I heard this accounts of what was going on."
The Patriots will wear their customized cleats on Dec. 2 against the Minnesota Vikings, and Matthew said he left the design of his cleats in trusted hands. Leslie Morris, who is an artist and married to former Patriot Sammy Morris, is the mind behind Matthew's cleats. She's designed cleats for Patriots players in the past, and Matthew said it was an easy decision to have Leslie tackle his.
"The Morrises are a very special group of people to me. They've been a big a part of my story here in New England, from my rookie year until now and Leslie is so talented," Matthew said. "So to be able to have her do my cleats, it was a no-brainer. You know, if she was willing, she was going to be the one to do it. So I'm excited to see what she comes up with."
As the guys flash across television screens nationwide, fans will get a glimpse at what each player cares about. When football fans see Matthews cleats, he hopes they take initiative to learn more about International Justice Mission and about slavery that is still prevalent around the world.
"I just hope that we're not blind to the fact that slavery is still an issue in our world today, especially the sex slave trade, with women and children and I think that's one of the most tragic things that I can think of are women and children being enslaved for sex essentially," Matthew said. "It ought not to be that way. There's no excuse for that. I don't care who you are, where you're from. what country you live in, how much you make, that's not okay."