Marcus Mariota wore five sets of cleats on Thursday in honor of friend battling ALS

Ben WeinribYahoo Sports Contributor
Yahoo Sports
Titans quarterback <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nfl/players/28390/" data-ylk="slk:Marcus Mariota">Marcus Mariota</a> wore five different cleats on Thursday that were designed by students from a Washington high school. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota wore five different cleats on Thursday that were designed by students from a Washington high school. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

The NFL’s My Cause, My Cleats week is important to Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota because it’s a chance for him to raise awareness for ALS. Mariota has built a close connection with another University of Oregon student, Osiel Mendoza, who was diagnosed with the disease at 21.

In honor of Mendoza, who was in attendance, Mariota wore five pairs of cleats on Thursday for the Titans’ game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

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Mariota partners with Washington high school

Mariota worked with a Vancouver, Washington, high school after his mother suggested having a student contest to design his cleats. King’s Way High School art teacher Justin Tigner, who met Mariota while volunteering at Oregon, helped organize the school-wide competition with 50 submissions.

Each student had two weeks to decorate the size-13 Nike Vapor Untouchable Pro 3s, which have since been auctioned off with proceeds going toward the ALS Development Institute.

The school and Mariota combined to pick the five top cleats with freshman Olive Mohammadi being named the winning entrant for her green and pink cleats with flowers from Mariota’s native state of Hawaii.

“I just wanted him, when he looked at it, to kind of think of his home or what he thinks is most beautiful about Hawaii,” Mohammadi said to KGW’s Lindsay Nadrich. “I didn’t think I was going to get picked.”

Student cleats end up being luckier

Mariota has worked with Tigner before to get custom cleats, making this connection easier. The fifth-year quarterback first took notice of Tigner last summer when Tigner commissioned a pair of custom cleats for the Titans’ October game against the Los Angeles Chargers in London.

The Titans ended up losing that game in a 20-19 heartbreaker, but Mariota had better fortunes with the students’ cleats. Tennessee crushed Jacksonville 30-9 largely thanks to running back Derrick Henry’s historic day, while Mariota went 18-for-24 passing.

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