AJ Cole: My Cause, My Cleats

On December 4th, 2022, the Las Vegas Raiders participated in the league-wide “My Cause My Cleats” initiative, which brings awareness to a charity of their choice. ISE Alumni AJ Cole represented the Kenya Project during the game.

Cole has a long history of supporting the Kenya Project – a nonprofit with a mission to provide resources and facilities for health, education and spiritual development to the children of Kenya. “It’s the organization I’ve done on ‘My Cause My Cleats’ every year since I’ve been in the NFL. They are an organization I got connected with in college,” Cole told FanNation Raider Maven. The Project has a school in Nakuru, Kenya, that serves 800 children, many of whom are orphans. About 300 of the students stay on-site at the boarding school. “I was able to go every year in college for spring break. It’s an organization that I’ve been working with for a long time and feel pretty passionate about.” 

When asked about his experiences back in 2018, Cole stated that “The biggest thing I’ve learned from these trips is just how blessed we are living in a country like we do. Being able to play college football, I have everything I need and everything I want, really.” He explained “There are all kinds of people across the world that would kill for an opportunity to be blessed like that, so I’m really just trying to appreciate everything that I have.”

Cole is focused not just on the game but on how the game can improve lives. “I think it’s important that the NFL puts such a huge emphasis on community outreach, social justice,” Cole told Raider Nation. “I’ve always felt like we have such an incredible platform. Because we play football, for some reason, people care about what we have to say. And if we’re not using that to enrich the lives of others, then we’re wasting the platform we have.” Later during his interview with Raider Nation, Cole expanded on this idea. “Everybody wants to look good on gameday, but at the end of the day, looking good on gameday doesn’t really mean anything.” Cole hopes that by seeing his cleats, viewers will be interested enough to look up not only the Kenya Project but the other causes on display.

After the game, players will have the option to donate their cleats to NFL Auction, where fans can bid for their custom cleats. All proceeds from sales will go to the respective causes selected by the players.

AJ Cole named Walter Payton Man of the Year Nominee

AJ Cole has also been named as a Walter Payton Man of the Year Nominee due to his commitment to not only his community but communities abroad. The Walter Payton award is considered the league’s most prestigious honor and is given to players that represent the values of respect, integrity, resiliency, and responsibility on and off the field.