The NFL loosened up its stringent uniforms policy to allow for personal messages on cleats for one week (previously, customized cleats could only be worn pregame by rule). This allows for players to generate awareness on causes they've partnered up to support.
Sponsorship Buddy's Take:
1) Notably, the "No Fun League" NFL has garnered a lot of flack for incredibly strict uniform policies (ie. Deangelo Williams being fined for pink hair honoring his mother who died of cancer) tied to an overly profit-driven mentality. This gesture (albeing one week only) shows that the NFL has a heart during the "season of giving," allowing individualism and providing a pedestal to reap positive change as 100% of the proceeds go from auctioning the shoes to the select charitable partner's cause.
2) No, these aren't traditional corporate partnerships. Most charitable causes also can't afford the corporate partnership asking prices. Sports and entertainment can unite the masses and really be a conduit for positive change (with the work currently done largely flying under the radar). Rights holders get bombarded by charitable donation requests and each handles these differently, but due to the lack of resources can't handle them all. One favorite sponsor want is to tie to positive community and charitable causes via the platform sponsorship can provide. Developing this platform can equate to prized status as a sponsorship asset. It's imperative to develop resource-conscious platforms to drive awareness and support for causes to benefit the greater good (also, authentic cause marketing benefits are realized longterm).
3) #MyCleatsMyCause week enables football players to get limelight for the off-the-field good and not just the big plays. All kinds of causes have been brought to the surface that otherwise might not have been heard about, just by bending the rules a bit and taking a chance. The PR good at a time when ratings and image have notably dipped, and the result is better: happier players and colorful causes that have gained unbeknownst traction and engagement. Take risks, be different, and provide a platform for causes - it will ultimately pay off!