Photo courtesy of Adidas

By Thomas J. Ryan

As the pace of the football game increases, speed and quickness are valued not just on the edges of the field but in the trenches as well. With new technologies and construction, football cleats are coming in lighter than ever. But a cleat also has to deliver explosiveness and that’s more about multi-directional speed and strength. Visually, the new cleats from Adidas, Nike, Jordan and Under Armour also show that they have to draw attention.

Adidas Uncaged Bear

Adidas Uncaged Bear


The Uncaged Collection features five new Adizero 5-Star 4.0 cleats, each showcasing a different beast: lion, bear, bulldog, tiger and eagle. The Uncaged animal graphics are highlighted on the side of the cleat through an innovative digital printing process and are designed to represent players’ “on-field mindsets to uncage their inner beasts and the animals featured are the most popular mascots in high school football,” according to Adidas.

Weighing 8.1 oz., the Adizero 5-Star 4.0, $130, is built with a single-layer Sprintskin upper featuring Shockweb that reduces the shoe’s weight while still providing a lockdown fit. The anatomically molded EVA insole provides maximum comfort and the 5-Star Frame has a reinforced top plate, making it the optimum blend of lightweight, strength and traction.

The Adizero 5-Star 4.0 Mantraflage, $120, is the second evolution of the Adidas flage series. The words that make up the Adizero flage are a compilation of key words when athletes described their style of play on the field. The lightweight cleats are backed by a Sprintskin upper and a 5-Star Frame outsole to help players accelerate.

“When football players look for new cleats, they look for three key elements: lightweight, traction and ways to stand out.”

“When football players look for new cleats, they look for three key elements: lightweight, traction and ways to stand out,” said Jeff McGillis, senior director of football. “The Adizero franchise is the undisputed lightweight champion for the past five seasons. Light = Fast. This year we upgraded Adizero with the 5-Star frame, increasing traction while reducing weight. In addition, an innovative digital printing process has allowed us create graphic packs like Uncaged or Mantraflage to allow players to stand out every Friday night.”

Adidas scored a coup in early September by signing Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers to an endorsement deal. Rodgers, who had been with Nike joins DeMarco Murray of the Philadelphia Eagles, Jimmy Graham of the Seattle Seahawks and Von Miller of the Denver Broncos, among others, in addition to six first round picks in the 2015 NFL Draft on Adidas’ roster of NFL players.

Photo courtesy of Nike

Photo courtesy of Nike


Nike introduced a series of cleats – Nike Vapor Speed, Nike Alpha Speed and Nike Strike Speed – that addresses an athlete’s specific speed needs depending on their skillset and position.

Designed for the fastest players on the field and built for athletes like Richard Sherman, Odell Beckham, Jr. and Marcus Mariota, the Vapor Speed series is represented by the Nike Vapor Untouchable, $200, which plays up a sleek Flyknit upper to deliver a tight yet flexible fit that adapts to the foot’s natural motion. Flyknit technology knit shoe uppers are engineered for zoned strength and support, while reducing waste in the manufacturing process. The Nike Vapor Untouchable is also the first Flyknit football cleat made with recycled polyester yarn – each pair is knit with the equivalent of five recycled plastic bottles.

The Alpha Speed series is designed for players such as Calvin Johnson, Jr., Luke Kuechly and Amari Cooper that excel through quick, elusive directional movement on the field. Flyweave technology on Calvin Johnson’s CJ Elite TD Cleat, $130, enables the creation of a one-piece woven upper that provides strength-to-weight support where needed most based on the demands of the game. The woven material also allows for advanced positioning of Flywire cables to lock down the midfoot, offering exceptional containment much like a seatbelt or harness system. Working in concert with an injected TPU outsole, the Flyweave upper encourages 360-degree propulsion.

Lunar, Vapor and Elite

Lunar, Vapor and Elite

The cleat plate on the CJ Elite TD Cleat incorporates redesigned conical studs and a wide traction pattern for precise lateral movement, while a single talon cleat at the heel advances grip and acceleration off the line. Additional support and structure come through a minimal NikeSkin overlay on the toe and heel.

The Strike Speed series is aimed at players like Rob Gronkowski, Khalil Mack and Leonard Williams who play with power and relentless speed. Developed with insight from defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, the Nike LunarBeast Elite TD, $130 is particularly engineered for a quick first step. An innovative NikeSkin upper provides lightweight durability and protection while Dynamic Nike Flywire locks the foot in place for support. 

Jordan Brand

Jordan retro

Air Jordan VII

To celebrate the 23rd Anniversary of the Air Jordan VII silhouette, Jordan Brand outfitted its football athletes with player-exclusive cleats in team-specific colors. Originally released in 1992 and worn by Michael Jordan in his first back-to-back championship season, the Air Jordan VII, $150, features a neoprene inner bootie and colorful geometric detailing inspired by West African tribal culture. The Lunarlon cushioning system delivers a responsive feel, while the multi-colored 12-cleat configuration offers premium traction and durability.

Players who will be donning Jordan Brand cleats include Michael Crabtree, Earl Thomas and Charles Woodson. The latest NFL player to join the Jordan Brand ranks is cornerback Joe Haden of the Cleveland Browns. “I’m honored to represent the Jordan Brand this season alongside some of the best players in the game,” said Haden. “The brand’s legacy of pinnacle performance product is unlike anything in the world, and I am excited to continue showcasing that heritage on the field.”

Under Armour

Under Armour Highlights

Under Armour Highlights MC

From Under Armour, the UA Highlight MC Football Cleats, $130, feature a UA ClutchFit upper that wraps the foot in a “second skin”. A 3D-molded tongue provides comfort and added protection, a 4D Foam footbed reduces cleat pressure and also supports comfort, and V56 technology helps limit toe hyperextension.

Worn by players including Eddie Lacy, Aqib Talib, Vontaze Burfict, Ryan Mathews and Kyle Fuller, the UA Highlight MC Football Cleats also includes a UA PlasmaX plate that powers the foot’s natural motion for maximum traction & stability. Weighing 8.2 oz. for the game’s quickest athletes, the cleats bring over the successful SpeedForm upper from the running world to mold the football player’s foot to their shoe for zero distractions. It also features a seamless molded heel cup that feels like an extension of the foot. Patrick Peterson, Keenan Allen, Justin Forsett and Brandon Marshall wear the cleat.

Photo courtesy of Under Armour

Photo courtesy of Under Armour