NFL Player Matt Gay, Teased for Name, Wants to Kick Bullying

The Tampa Bay Buccaneer steps up for the My Cause, My Cleats campaign.

Good shoes, can’t lose.

Matt Gay, a kicker for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, aims to stomp out bullying this Sunday during their match against the Indianapolis Colts, Tampa Bay Times reports.

Gay, 25, will wear colorful cleats emblazoned with an anti-bullying message as part of the NFL’s My Cause, My Cleats campaign, for which participating players wear footwear designed to reflect a cause they support during one game each season.

“Anti-bullying is huge to me,” Gay explains. “I’ve had some nieces and nephews and family members close to me that were strongly affected by it. Especially with social media in this day and age. It’s everywhere. It’s so easy to hide behind a phone and say whatever you want. This is just really important to me because it hits home because I’ve had family members strongly affected by it. I think it’s pure coward-ism for those who do it and there’s no place for it in this world.”

“I got bullied and teased all the time for my last name and things like that,” Gay says of his upbringing in Utah. “Luckily I was stronger willed than they were and overcome it. There’s a lot of kids that get bullied in this world and have no way to stand up for themselves.”

Gay adds that as an NFL rookie, he is still the target of bullying through social media and hate mail.

“It’s crazy. Some of the messages I receive, it’s almost like people forget you’re an actual human being,” he says. “That you’re sending this to another person. It’s easy when you’re sitting behind a phone and not face to face with someone and can say whatever you want. But you don’t know it’s affecting that person, it’s affecting the mom and those that are around them. Just being able to show a little faith in humanity and love everyone. We’re all struggling through life. There’s no reason to beat somebody down for no reason.”

Outsports reported that last year 14 players used the My Cause, My Cleats campaign to call attention to anti-bullying.

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