Houston Texans rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud’s cleats carried a message that hits close to home as he took on the Denver Broncos Sunday afternoon at home.
Through the NFL’s "My Cause My Cleats" initiative, which allows players to break the usual team uniform code to wear cleats showing causes they wish to advocate for, Stroud had two pairs of cleats that pointed to prison reform.
As he took the field at NRG Stadium in Houston for his pre-game warmups, he wore black and gold cleats that had a large hashtag reading "#REFORM" on it, which calls for prison reform.
Why Stroud decided to use that for his cleats points to the second pair he wore for the game; "FREE POPS" was seen on the side of them.
Coleridge Stroud III has been in prison since his son was in middle school, as he’s serving a 38 year-to-life sentence after pleading guilty in 2016 to carjacking, kidnapping and robbery charges in a drug-related incident. He is currently serving his sentence at Folsom State Prison near Sacramento.
Stroud spoke earlier this season about his father’s situation and how it’s affected him.
"What I’ve been battling with is trying to still be a family man, still help out, and still be a football player and do my job," Stroud said in early November. "It’s been tough."
Stroud also spoke about prison reform while discussing his father.
"Our criminal justice system isn’t right, and it’s something that I need to probably be a little more vocal about, because what he’s going through is not right," C.J. Stroud said. "He called me this week, and we got to talk, and I’m praying for the situation and a reform, and the people with reform are helping me a little bit.
"But, I think just letting it be known that it’s not just my dad’s situation, but the whole criminal justice system is corrupt."
Part of being more vocal was this week for Stroud, using his cleats to continue sharing the message he wants the masses to realize.