Top-tier shoe brands drew inspiration from Von Miller, Russell Wilson and Cam Newton for a fresh crop of eye-catching footwear.
The Hall of Fame game last week heralded the start of the NFL preseason, a time to scope out new players, new coaches and – in the case of flashy marquee stars like Von Miller, Russell Wilson and Cam Newton – new styles.
For the 2017 season, Adidas, Nike and Under Armour are all upping their gridiron game with cleats that pair performance with outrageous design elements.
First up is the over-the-top Adidas 2017 Uncaged Collection, which incorporates the characteristics of ferocious animals. The collection features the Freak x Kevlar football cleats with Cheetah, Dragon, Falcon, Lion, Mutant, Shark, Snake and Tiger designs.
The shoes have a silhouette designed to provide mid-cut support with a low-cut feel. Constructed from lightweight, flexible Sprintskin, Adidas’ trademarked laminate technology that provides increased support while reducing weight, they also sport Kevlar woven into the upper. The RazorFrame has strategically placed SprintStuds and a new torsion system with forefoot carbon fiber for performance and multi-directional strength and traction. To top it all off, each cleat ups the intimidation factor with “EAT” lace jewels.
Denver Broncos linebacker and Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller was the recipient of a player-exclusive shark version (pictured below) tricked out with a digitally printed sharkskin and shark tooth design as an homage to Miller’s relentless style of play and blend of speed and power.
On to Nike, whose latest cleat is the Alpha Menace Elite (pictured below). “In terms of cleats we’ve made before, this is our antagonist,” said Jeff Rasmussen, Nike senior inline innovator and the lead footwear designer for the Alpha Menace Elite. “It has a dangerous, gritty vibe.”
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson provided key insight and was integrated in the design and development of the Alpha Menace Elite and his Russell Wilson PE. “He moves like a linebacker,” explained Rasmussen. “The yards he picks up, the way he eludes players and leaves the pocket … he’s incredibly agile uses every bit of the bottom and the edges of his cleats.”
The Menace was built to accommodate these attributes with fourteen studs lining the outsole, eight of which are standard primary studs that appear on most cleats. Rasmussen’s team added a toe and heel stud and four secondary studs, providing additional traction.
The studs themselves are triangular with scooped edges — most cleats feature conical studs. “We tested tri-shape studs through the shuttle drill at the combine and the players showed markedly improved times — so great that the combine banned it during official tracking,” said Rasmussen. The triangle edges grab and release the ground – think of a shovel – and each surface faces a different direction.
Because quarterbacks are on the field for the longest amount of time, they require a shoe that is both light and supportive. Rasmussen’s team built the forefoot of the Alpha Menace Elite as a speed shoe, but boosted the heel with extra cushioning. The Alpha Menace Elite also has a simplified Flyknit upper with TPU yarns.
The Russell Wilson PE features a white upper with green trim and camo print. “I always told the design team that I want it to be like a tiger, a cheetah, to feel like I was an animal on the field and that’s what this represents,” he said. The spines are adorned with WILSON on the right and DANGERUSS – his tagline – on the left, with the RW3 logo on the tongue.
Finally, Under Armour in June rolled out its first custom sneaker offering, debuting the UA Icon site that allows users to give their own spin on a handful of models, including the Under Armour Highlight football cleat (pictured above). UA Icon allows for photo uploads to be printed directly onto the cleats, an approach already utilized by Adidas for its MiZXFlux app. Customers can upload their personal image on to the shoe, as well as pick from a wide range of patterns provided by Under Armour.
For off-the-field panache, Under Armour unveiled a lifestyle sneaker for Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, the Under Armour C1N. The notoriously style-conscious Newton collaborated with the brand on a signature shoe that boasts a Threadborne upper for flex and pairs responsive cushioning with a gel-like outsole. Under Armour released imagery of the first three C1N colorways, the first of which hit stores in July, with additional iterations coming in September and October.
The first colorway, Hometown (pictured above), inspired by Newton’s Atlanta roots, arrived on July 20. Currently sold out on UA.com, the shoe is predominantly red with gold highlights. The second version to hit stores is Chairman, a look Under Armour stated is a “nod to the quarterback’s love of ‘50s swank and his hunger to make an impact on his adopted home of Charlotte.” The Chairman version of the shoe will hit stores on September 8. The third colorway, 442, inspired by classic muscle cars and executed with a black and gold palette, arrives on October 20.
Photos courtesy Adidas, Nike and Under Armour