For Bears kicker Cody Parkey, there’s a bit of serendipity the cause he’s supporting with his cleats as part of the NFL’s “My Cause, My Cleats” initiative this weekend.
Parkey’s cleats will promote the Lutzie 43 Foundation, which was started in the memory of former Auburn tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen, who died in a car accident in 2014. Parkey played with Lutzenkirchen at Auburn, and said that supporting the Lutzie 43 Foundation is even more special given the fandom of his former teammates.
“For me, it’s not about recognition or anything like that,” Parkey said. “It’s just another way for me to honor Philip and I know he’s smiling down at me and I know his favorite team is the Bears. That’s even cooler. … It’s pretty cool for me to be on the Bears and be able to honor him.”
Parkey became friends with Lutzenkirchen, Auburn’s all-time leader in receiving touchdowns, during their playing days in college. He was only 23 when he was killed in a single-car accident, in which Lutzenkirchen was not wearing his seatbelt.
The Lutzie 43 Foundation promotes safe driving habits among young people, a cause for which Parkey is eager to spread awareness.
“It means a lot,” Parkey said. “Philip was a really good friend of mine at Auburn. I wear his bracelet every day. It’s something that’s close to me, and I’ve become close with his family and his sister, his mom and dad. It for me was a no-brainer. It was, this is what I want to do, I want to represent Philip and at the same time promoting safe driving.
“They came out with the 43 key seconds, so Philip’s number was 43 and that’s kind of where that comes from. You put this key on your keychain and it’s something you look for before you start the car and it just reminds, you is everything out of my hands, don’t use your cell phone, stuff like that. I think it’s a really cool initiative and it’s going to help the foundation out a lot as they continue to just help people out throughout the nation.”
Taking advantage of his platform
For Trey Burton, the opportunity to promote a cause with his platform was something that was important to him and his wife before he threw the “Philly Special” touchdown in Super Bowl LII or signed a rich four-year contract with the Bears. Three years ago, the Burtons heard International Justice Mission CEO Gary Haugen speak and were moved to get involved with the foundation, which focuses on ending the slave trade globally with a focus on child sex trafficking.
Burton is one of four players who will be representing International Justice Mission with their cleats this weekend, joining Denver’s Max Garcia, New England’s Matthew Slater and New Orleans’ Benjamin Watson.
“I’ve seen it come to fruition in a huge way,” Burton said of his involvement in the foundation. “For example, two years ago we went to the Dominican — I went there with five or six other NFL players. This year, we went back and we were able to get a meeting with the vice president and someone who’s similar to the attorney general here in America over there.
“And they’re changing laws now for sex trafficking — I wouldn’t say just because of us going there, but we were able to sit and talk to him about the issue and told IJM they have every available resource available in the country to stop trafficking. Just that awareness is huge and it’s bigger than what we think.”
For Burton, using his platform to try to make a difference in the world is an important part of his career. The Bears released a behind-the-scenes photo gallery of how Burton's cleats were designed, which you can view here.
“I’m only going to play this game for so long,” Burton said. “And I feel like if I don’t take advantage of these opportunities like this and other guys don’t take advantage of it, they’re missing out on a huge part on what they’re able to do.”