For years, fans paid as much attention to NFL players’ footwear as they did to their economics professor’s boring lectures. That is to say, not much. All NFL players ever needed was a pair of sneakers with some spikes on the bottom. Meanwhile, the shoe culture of the NBA became almost as big economically as the game itself.
That’s all changed. Oregon started a uniform and cleat revolution in college football with its seemingly numberless outfit combinations, so stylish they could be front and center during New York Fashion Week. Now a cleat revolution of sorts is swirling in the big league.
More NFL players than ever now have their own signature shoes. Case in point: earlier this year, New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz announced the “Nike Air Cruz.” And on the field, despite the NFL’s boarding school-esque uniform requirements, flashy cleats are becoming the rule, not the exception. Air Jordan, known mostly for its basketball kicks, now has a substantial roster of top-tier NFL players, including Joe Haden, Earl Thomas III and Dez Bryant.
If you need more proof of the rise of cleat and sneaker culture in the NFL, the 2015 pre-season would be a good place to look. Over the past two weeks, we’ve seen cleats ranging in color from bright orange, silver and green to a myriad of others strewn across the field—a far cry from the traditional black and white color combination that once dominated players’ feet.
Here are some of the best cleats we’ve seen this pre-season, all evidence of a cleat revolution in the NFL.
Johnny Manziel’s Orange Nike Vapor Untouchable
Cam Newton’s Bright Green Under Armour PEs
Tyrod Taylor’s Nike Vapor Untouchable
Dez Bryant’s Air Jordan VII PE
Demaryius Thomas’s Under Armour Spine Lineage