Specialists with Special Causes: Daniel Carlson, AJ Cole, Trent Sieg using NFL's My Cause My Cleats to create awareness for causes close to their hearts

It's means much more than just wearing flashy cleats for Daniel Carlson, AJ Cole and Trent Sieg.

It's the special teams trio's fourth season together as teammates participating in the NFL's 'My Cause My Cleats' initiative, a league-wide tradition that gives players the opportunity to pick a cause or charity meaningful to them and represent their chosen organization on custom designed cleats.

Twenty-seven Raiders are participating this season – with some players choosing to donate their cleats to be auctioned off, with 100% of proceeds going to their chosen organizations.

"I think it's important that the NFL puts such a huge emphasis on community outreach, social justice," said Cole. "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.

"I appreciate the NFL for having My Cause My Cleats and having all these different things they do to support us and a lot of our endeavors."

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Carlson and Cole have been connected with their chosen organizations since they were in college. Carlson is bringing awareness to pediatric cancer, with his organization being aTeam Ministries. The kicker got connected with the Birmingham, Alabama, based organization while attending Auburn University. Their mission is to financially and emotionally support families with children fighting cancer.

"Just a really cool organization I've been able to partner with over the years," said Carlson. "They're Auburn fans, a lot of the kids, so we get to do some fun stuff through that. It's really an honor to represent them."

"They're a beautiful work of art," Carlson added after seeing his cleats for the first time. "It means a lot to show some of the kids that are going through pediatric cancer that 'Hey, someone in the NFL is representing you guys on gameday.' It's really cool to be able to be a part of that."

As for Cole, he is supporting the The Kenya Project, a nonprofit with a mission to provide resources and facilities for health, education and spiritual development to the children of Kenya. He's partnered with the foundation every season of his NFL career to date, as he would travel to Kenya for spring break in college to assist with the operations of their boarding school and orphanage.

"Everybody wants to look good on gameday, but at the end of the day looking good on gameday doesn't really mean anything," said Cole. "I hope people see the cleats and it causes them to have a little curiosity to go on and look up 'What cause is Trent representing? What cause is Daniel representing?' Maybe they end up on The Kenya Project's website [and] they end up sponsoring a child.

"For people to see these are very real organizations that we're passionate about, that we spend a lot of time, energy, focus, money on – just trying to do whatever we can. That's kind of my hope is that the cleats look awesome and it catches people eye ... and then maybe they can help support."

Sieg's cause is one with utmost personal meaning to himself and his family. The long snapper will be representing The Fletcher Foundation, which works alongside families after miscarriage and stillbirth, providing education and financial assistance. Before the birth of his son this past May, Sieg and his wife Carly suffered through two miscarriages.

"It's a great way to be able to reach out and show people what's important to us and really use our platform to help as much as we can," said Sieg. "It's something little, but it's something tangible that you can really see. You know that these specific cleats are going to go off and do something really well for a cause that's really near and dear to you once they're auctioned off.

"Or they can just mean a lot to somebody who's been through a lot or certain causes that we all want to support, and know that they're going to make a difference in the world."

For more on the Raiders' My Cause My Cleats initiative, visit raiders.com/cleats.

The Silver and Black unboxed their custom cleats for the NFL's My Cause My Cleats campaign ahead of their Week 13 matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers.

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