Joey Bosa had a rocky start to his NFL career as he was holding out for his rookie contract, but as soon as he hit the field it was clear the impact he would have on the Los Angeles Chargers (then San Diego).
Bosa has been one of the best pass rushers in the entire league from the moment he put on a uniform. He had 10.5 sacks in 12 games played in his rookie season, and he’s picked right up where he left off for 11.5 sacks in the first 12 games of the 2017 season.
But this isn’t about his accomplishments on the field. Bosa recently penned an article for Sports Illustrated where he detailed an encounter with a cancer patient that meant the world to him. So much so that he dedicated his My Cause, My Cleats cleats to pediatric cancer research.
You might notice some bright gold cleats in our game against Cleveland on Sunday. I mean, really bright. I’ll be wearing them. They’ll have CHILDREN DESERVE #MORETHAN4 on the side. This slogan is really important to me, because it’s really important to a friend of mine who’s beaten cancer multiple times. I’ll explain.
When I played at Ohio State, I was fortunate enough to be nominated for the Lombardi Award as a sophomore. That’s the award given to the best defensive lineman or linebacker in college football. The ceremony is in Houston, and when I went there, the candidates for the award went to visit some of the pediatric cancer patients at this great hospital for treating cancer, the MD Anderson Cancer Center. I met a bunch of kids there. I was happy I got to go, because maybe we can’t help millions of patients, but if we can put a smile on someone’s face, it’s worth it.
The next year, I got nominated again, and we took another trip to MD Anderson. A boy about 13 or 14 came up to me. I recognized him from the year before.
“You remember me?” he said.
“Of course I do,’’ I said … and I did.
MD Anderson hospital in Houston is a destination for many cancer patients. It has the reputation of being one of the premier hospitals for patients going through cancer. Having seen my Dad fight cancer and be treated by the doctors at MD Anderson, I can tell you there is a reason they have such a pristine reputation.
The young boy Bosa had a connection with was a Notre Dame fan named Sean. Ohio State just so happened to be playing Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl that year. Naturally, some friendly trash talking ensued.
We just started talking again. He’s a big Notre Dame football fan. We were about to play Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl, so of course we did some trash-talking. I told him I was going to beat up on his Irish. He told me how bad they were going to beat us. I think on that visit, I basically spent almost all my time with him. It was a great conversation.
He showed me his TED talk. Here’s young teenager suffering from cancer, and he did a TED talk about it! That was amazing … how he could stand up there and talk to people and even crack jokes. He was so smart. He was not afraid. I just couldn’t believe it. The effort he was putting in, with his own life on the line, to try to help others, was just incredible. He really impacted me. I gave him my phone number, and we kept in touch.
Sean ended up educating Bosa on the small amount of money that actually goes towards pediatric cancer research. That number is only four percent of all money that is raised for cancer research. That hit Bosa square in the gut and he decided to do something about it.
I found myself thinking about him a lot. He educated me on a lot of things about cancer. He told me, “Did you know that out of all the money raised for cancer research, only four percent goes to pediatric cancer?’ That just shocked me. That is not my world at all. I never even thought of it. But being at that hospital, and seeing how many kids were sick there, I just thought how unfair that seemed. Four percent? Four percent? That just made a huge impact on me.
We’ve got this My Cause, My Cleats deal with the NFL now, where we can choose to put a cause we’re involved in on our cleats. So I asked Sean if he wanted to design my cleats this year. I think he was pretty excited about it. I connected him with my rep at Adidas, and I let Sean do whatever he wanted. You probably know breast cancer is pink. Pediatric cancer is gold. So they came up with these cleats, and one thing I know is I’ll get noticed on Sunday against the Browns.
You can see the cleats here.
It’s Sean’s message to the cancer community: CHILDREN DESERVE #MORETHAN4. I loved it. I think it’s fantastic. And I hope America gets to see his message from coast to coast.
When I sent Sean the final pictures, he was so excited. He put it up on his Instagram page, and I hope it made him happy.
For me, knowing Sean led me to do this, and it made me realize how fortunate I am. Your perspective on life changes when you meet people going through a real struggle. That’s why I’m lucky I met Sean—and lucky to have learned some important lessons from him.
The My Cause, My Cleats initiative is fantastic for NFL players to showcase these charities and to raise money for good causes. Cancer research is one of the most important causes one could donate too, but sometimes we don’t know what happens after we donate. Bosa is hoping to change that for pediatric cancer research and the fundraising that goes into it.