Receptions for Research: The Greg Olsen Foundation

Greg Olsen ditching his worn-in cleats for a cause

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen is a creature of habit, particularly as it pertains to his cleats.

He wore only two pair all of last season, and this season has been no different.

“I don’t do the Cam thing,” the two-time Pro Bowl selection said of Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, who wears one pair of specially-designed Under Armour cleats for warm-ups and another for the game. “I couldn’t do it. I just like them worn in.”

But Olsen is making an exception for Sunday’s night’s game in Seattle. He will wear a special pair of red and blue Nike cleats with his HEARTest Yard initiative logo on the strap to help raise awareness for congenital heart disease.

It’s part of a Week 13 NFL initiative called “My Cause, My Cleats” campaign in which players are allowed to wear custom-made cleats in the game.

Olsen worked with Nike to design his cleats. Red is the color for heart disease. Red and blue represents congenital heart disease.

“Meaning you’re born with it,” Olsen said as Carolina prepared for Seattle at San Jose State.

Olsen recently shared his story behind the cleats in The Players Tribune. It’s a story Olsen has shared many times over the past few years, but the cleats gave him another opportunity to spread the word.

The short version, on Oct. 9, 2012, Olsen and his wife Kara were blessed with twins, T.J. and Talbot. T.J. was born with a life-threatening congenital heart defect that required multiple surgeries.

That prompted the Olsens to start The HEARTest Yard Fund at Levine Children’s Center in Charlotte for families going through similar experiences.

“It means a lot to us, and something we put a lot of time and effort into,” Olsen said of the program. “It’s pretty cool. To be on a Sunday night game and be able to get, not just for our program, but just congenital heart disease in general, is a great platform for us. We’re thankful for that.”

But wearing custom-designed cleats on a regular basis is something Olsen will leave to Newton.

“I’m just going to do it once,” he said. “This isn’t really my thing. I felt like for the cause, for the greater good, it was something I would make an exception on.”