TAMPA, Fla. -- First came a surprise birthday phone call while he was recovering in the hospital. Then an autographed jersey. Now Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick will honor George Amedeo by wearing cleats this week to honor the National Compassion Fund as part of the NFL's "My Cause, My Cleats" initiative.
Amadeo, 18, is a gamer and a survivor of the Jacksonville, Florida, "Madden NFL 19" tournament shooting on Aug. 26. Amadeo, who goes by the gamer tag "FitzMagic13," suffered a gunshot wound to his foot and ankle area and told ESPN that Fitzpatrick's surprise "was totally unexpected and brightened my spirits during a very dark time."
Fitzpatrick said on Wednesday that he wanted to support George, "and this is the direction they pointed me in for me to be able to support him and the victims of the shooting."
The National Compassion Fund provides 100 percent of its donations to those impacted by unexpected and catastrophic events, including mass shootings.
The cleats are dark blue and purple, with yellow and green stars, and they have "@Fitzmagic13" etched in bright pink letters. They feature Fitzpatrick wearing a red wizard's hat and holding a wand.
"He's got a beard, yeah, but maybe a lawn gnome?" Fitzpatrick said with a smile.
He plans to send the cleats to Amadeo, who lives in Middletown, New Jersey, and began rooting for Fitzpatrick when the QB was with the New York Jets.
Fitzpatrick believes the two will cross paths in the future.
"We kind of have a nice little text back-and-forth relationship now," Fitzpatrick said. "He's been very supportive of me so I just wanted to show some support for him."