To fashionably wear camouflage pants, you must have a certain panache. Pairing them with a gray jacket over a blue button-down, Arizona Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson pulls off the bold look effortlessly—which might be the reason why Under Armour placed him in downtown Indianapolis as the face of its brand new, chrome-bottomed, gold-everything football cleat.
After the 2013 season, Peterson decided not to re-up with Nike, the brand he’d been with since his rookie year, opting to sign a multi-year deal with Under Armour. He doesn’t (yet) have a signature cleat with the Baltimore-based brand. Peterson will wear UA’s SpeedForm MC custom kicks on the field, since the company sought his input during the design and development process.
We sat down with Peterson ahead of the NFL Combine to chat about leaving Nike for Under Armour, why he’s the best dressed cornerback in football, and the upcoming 2015 NFL season.
STACK: It was big news last year when you left Nike for Under Armour. Now UA is making you the face of their new cleat. What made you decide to switch?
Patrick Peterson: I feel like a part of something here, rather than an object with that other brand. I felt I had an opportunity to have more input on a shoe that I felt more connected to. Under Armour gave me the opportunity to put my ends and odds on by adding a strap, different materials, colorways. They gave me the ability to send me blank shoes and still get them painted by an outside painter. They give us the ability to be free and the opportunity to build our own brand. That’s what these guys are giving me the opportunity to do today.
Aside from maybe Cam Newton and Calvin Johnson, very few guys in the NFL have a strong apparel brand. Is that something that’s important to you?
No question. Me and my marketing agent, we talk all the time about how Michael Jordan was in this position once upon a time. Not saying I’m Michael Jordan by any stretch of the imagination, but the great one had to go through it. I’m on a platform here today to be able to build my brand to the maximum. [Michael Jordan] took it to the next level, and I want to be able to utilize my platform to the best of my ability. Right now, I’m at the top of my game. I’m hot. So why not try to expand?
There’s a “Big Four” of cornerbacks right now. Richard Sherman likes to talk. Darrelle Revis is quiet. Joe Haden is a little flashy. What makes you different?
My cleat game is definitely the best of the defensive backs and in the NFL in general. I believe no one does what I do. I’m different. The way I dress on the field is impeccable. I definitely rock the Deion Sanders turtleneck with the long sleeves with the hot white sometimes. The cleat game speaks for itself. My peers compliment me all the time when I do post a cleat, like, “When is that one coming out?” Guys are definitely in tune to what I’m wearing on the field. So my dress code is definitely different than those guys.
The Under Armour SpeedForm MC
You provided input on the design of the SpeedForm MC cleat. What do you need from your footwear on the field?
I want to feel locked in. I move around so much, I have to make so many cuts, so many different movements in one play, it can make or break you. I want to make sure I’m tight, I’m locked in and there’s no wiggle room. I want to feel connected with the shoe. That’s the first thing I look for. The second thing is the traction. I want to make sure I’m not slipping and falling all over the place because as a defensive back, I am going backwards, and I have to stop on a dime and react to a receiver who is going 100 miles an hour at me. So I have to make sure that the traction is a big part as well.
The 2014 season was an odd one for the Cardinals. You guys had success early, but injuries knocked out your first- and second-string quarterbacks and you ultimately ended up missing the playoffs. What was it like to go through that?
The season was fun, despite all the injuries we went through. That’s my first 11-win season. That’s my first back-to-back double-digit win season. It was fun despite the way it ended. We all wish we could have had [QB] Carson [Palmer]. We all know we could have gone deeper if we did have Carson. The fact of the matter is that he got hurt. That’s the nature of the beast. That’s what happens in the NFL. But the season was a huge success for us and it’s definitely something we can build on.
What parts of your game are you working on for 2015?
Going back and watching film, I want to become a little bit quicker. I want to get a little bit lighter on my feet and be more physical with my hands at the line of scrimmage. Those are some of the things I can jot off the top of my head right now. There’s always room for improvement. Even though I do feel like I’m the best in the league, there’s ways you can find to get better. I’m never comfortable with where I’m at.
Check out Patrick Peterson’s yoga workout.