Over 50 NFL Coaches, Eight Teams To Participate in “My Cause, My Cleats” or December Game Day Stadium Stair Climb To Honor and Raise Money and Awareness For Late Coach Gregg Knapp and The Coach Knapp Memorial Fund
The Coach Knapp Memorial Fund was activated by eight NFL teams, and some 50 coaches and former players all participating together this December to raise money while assisting with the education of vehicle drivers about the dangers of distracted driving for the safety of cyclists. Thus far, five teams are committed to Stair Climb, while the other participants will wear custom designed cleats in support of the initiative during “My Cause, My Cleats” weekend. The goal is to raise $100,000 or more on Game Day during the month of December for The Coach Knapp Memorial Fund to educate drivers on the dangers of distracted driving. I never met Gregg Knapp in person but we spoke on the phone back in 1995 about the GridIron 2000 expert game-planning system during his very first NFL coaching job as an offensive quality control coach for the San Francisco 49ers, a professional football coaching career that spanned 25 seasons. His coaching stints included with the New York Jets, Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders (now Las Vegas), Houston Texans, Seattle Seahawks, and the Niners. Knapp later wrote me a personal letter on 49ers letterhead to inform me that the legendary Bill Walsh, and Head Coach, George Seifert, would not be purchasing the best-in-class Windows 95 software, co-developed by Sports 2000 and the Hawks, much to my dismay even though I had set up the ‘miracle meeting’ (my boss Colonel Jim Thomes called it that) through Walsh himself after selling him on it during an earlier phone sales pitch with the Hall of Famer. Like Knapp, I touched every NFL team, only I did it because of the revolutionary GI2000, he did it as a trusted and cutting edge coach. Knapp was the only NFL coach to respond with such a proper, classy and memorable hand-written letter, I’ve since saved in storage. As the Sports Techie community blog curator, I understand first-hand why he was so respected by so many across the NFL, including hundreds of players he coached, such as quarterbacks Steve Young, Jeff Garcia, Rick Mirer, Matt Schaub, Michael Vick, Peyton Manning, Matt Ryan, and most recently, Zach Wilson. Get your climbing boots on and join this cause for the safety of bike riders and drivers, alike. Fans, athletes, and coaches at any level can also participate wherever is most convenient to them across the country, such as apartment building stairs or a high school sports stadium. Images will be shared on various social channels.
An image of the shoes being worn this weekend can be found at https://www.knappmemorial.org/
“My Cause, My Cleats” and Stadium Stair Climb
Gregg was killed while cycling in a bike land in San Ramon, CA on July 17, 2021 after being hit by a 22-year old from behind, abruptly ending the life of the 58-year old, “quarterback whisperer.” According to Bicycling.com, the male car driver fled the scene and did not face criminal charges from the Contra Costa County District Attorney for his unpunished, tragic mistake. Bicycle riders like myself and my 79-year-old dad, know the daily dangers cars and trucks present when cycling on a road shared with car and truck drivers of all ages, abilities and driving skills. When a preventable accident like this happens, taking the husband of wife Charlotte, the father of 3 daughters, and a loved brother, and son to Knapps’s mom, so unexpectedly, it hits home with many others including his friends inside the NFL family enough to remember the man with an outpouring of heartfelt support for his first-ever fundraiser benefit. The fund was created by Charlotte, and close friend and agent Jeff Sperbeck, to educate drivers on the dangers of distracted driving, reduce the number of distracted driving related deaths, and promote distracted driving awareness reform. Coach Knapp developed the healthy habit of climbing stadium stairs before every single NFL game he coached over his 25 season career.
“We can think of no better way to honor Greg’s legacy and raise awareness for such a simple, but vital cause than by doing one of the activities he loved the most, climbing the stairs on gameday,” said Steve Mariucci, former NFL head coach and one of Knapp’s key mentors, who is now at analyst on The NFL Network. “To see the amount of support this has gotten is really touching, and most importantly, we firmly believe it will save lives well into the future.”
Knapp was most recently named Passing Game Coordinator of the N.Y. Jets under Head Coach Robert Saleh, after serving as an assistant coach for over a quarter of a century. Greg coached some of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history helping chart the careers of many young athletes with kindness, humor and trust.
“Knapper was one of the very best teammates I’ve ever been around. His Energy, optimism and high standards as a coach made such an impact on anyone who was fortunate to be around him,” added Dallas Cowboys Defensive Coordinator, Dan Quinn, another of Greg Knapp’s loyal fellow coaches, “Please join me in making sure his legacy as a great teammate and friend lives on.”
Make It So For Knapp, Cyclists and Drivers Alike
In honor of Coach Knapp, NFL coaches, players, executives and alumni will participate in raising funds and awareness at each NFL stadium prior to team warm ups between Week 14 (Dec. 11th), Week 15 (Dec. 18th) or Week 16 (Dec. 24th) of the NFL season. In addition, coaches and staff from several teams will wear custom designed shoes honoring Coach Knapp’s legacy as part of the annual “My Cause, My Cleats” celebration the weekend of December 4th. The shoes will be designed by several local artists working with each team. Participating coaches and former players will include: Steve Mariucci, Dan Quinn, Peyton Manning, Joe Lombardi (LA Chargers), Chris Strausser (Indianapolis Colts), Frank Pollack (Cincinnati Bengals), Jeff Ulbrich, TJ Yates, among many others.
Teams confirmed to participate include: New York Jets, Atlanta Falcons, Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers.
Sports Techie, additional participants at other teams will be announced in the coming weeks. As a fan of both Knapp and the NFL, noticeably absent so far are my favorite team, the Seahawks.
If I could, I would ask Gregg what he thinks about the sports tech enhanced evolution of football gameplanning with advanced tech like mixed reality, VR, AR, and machine learning, added to the revolutionary GI2000 we bonded over back when he was just starting out in the NFL as a pro coach. Before that era, the chalk board was used to draw plays without saving them digitally for future use. Times have changed drastically the past three decades with NFL game planning because of sports technology, for sure.
My best goes out to Charlotte, Knapp’s daughters, and family, and his many friends, as well as all those affected by distracted drivers while biking.
Time to step up!
See you later sportstechie in Seattle, Atlanta and around the world!
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