The Custom Cleats Craze

Custom cleats are all the rage in the NFL, and they'll be on display in a big way this week. So we gave apparel designers a list of star players, a blank canvas and one instruction: the crazier, the better.

24K Flair: Antonio Brown

Designed by Joshua Ariza
Besides his incredible end zone dances, Antonio Brown has the most memorable personal style. The Steelers WR is often seen entering the stadium garbed in chains, fur and even his signature gold headphones. This shoe highlights his taste for the 24K flair and his flashy touchdown antics.

Bringing The Boom: Richard Sherman

Designed by Davy Le Chevance / Mighty SHORT
I tried to include a little bit of everything that makes the Seahawks' shutdown corner so unique. Sherman will talk trash to Tom Brady: "You mad, bro?" He'll throw on his Brodie shades and constantly remind opponents -- and the general public -- about the Legion of Boom's prowess in Seattle. Oh, and if you didn't know already: Sherman is a proud Stanford alum, so any cleat of his has to feature the Tree.

Fly Like A Jet: Julio Jones

Designed by Tyler Sinnott
Julio Jones is like a fighter jet waiting to take off, hence his nickname "Jet Jones." I captured that essence with the iconic shark-mouth-themed nose art and the lightning on the tail. It is the perfect representation of the speed, toughness and aggression we see from Julio on the field. And those five footballs near the tail? Those represent his five touchdown catches for the Falcons this season.

Never A Bad Hair Day: Clay Matthews

Designed by Joshua Ariza
Clay Matthews is clearly quite fond of his lengthy locks. The Packers linebacker makes a habit of dousing his 'do with water and flipping it back with reckless abandon. I'd venture to say Matthews' hair is as well-known as his defensive play. True story: He is commonly referred to as "Fabio" by the members of my fantasy league. So I chose to illustrate the sack-artist as a romance novel heartthrob.

Overnight Sensation: Dak Prescott

Designed by Matt Stevens
Dak has been a surprising burst of energy and excitement, as he seemingly came out of nowhere to lead the Cowboys after Tony Romo's injury. When designing his cleat, I wanted to use a loose graffiti style to capture the buzz that has been building since the rookie QB has taken the league by storm.

The High Jump: Ezekiel Elliott

Designed by Lane Porter
Anyone who has watched Elliott during his breakout rookie season in Dallas couldn't help but notice his penchant for jumping over defenders. That started all the way back in high school, when he was a state-champion hurdler. The numbers on the back of the shoe represent Zeke's dominance from the preps to the pros, and the subtle elephant print background is a nod to the RB's love of retro Jordans.

Let's Get Weird: Von Miller

Designed by Joshua Ariza
Von Miller is the most interesting man in the league. He's obviously a magnetic player to watch, as he leads the NFL with 12.5 sacks this season, but his personal interests are also rad. He's into chicken farming, fishing, cowboy hats and weird glasses. The Broncos LB seems to be having the most fun in his free time, and he needed an eccentric shoe print to match his eccentric lifestyle.

Man of Steel: Cam Newton

Designed by Matt Stevens
Cam is larger than life, and as quarterback, he's as close as you'll come to Superman. From his signature TD celebration to his dives over the top at the goal line to his pregame apparel, there's no doubt Newton embraces his alter ego. I wanted to play off that idea and portray him as a literal superhero flying over the city.

One-Handed Wonder: Odell Beckham Jr.

Designed by Davy Le Chevance / Mighty SHORT
The Giants WR recently paid homage to the two-year anniversary of his life-changing one-handed catch on Twitter, so we had to represent that on his cleat. In many ways, that catch was the best example of Beckham's motto: Don't blink. As in, if you do, you might just miss something you've never seen before.

D.C.'s Dark Knight: Josh Norman

Designed by Jen Hood
How Josh Norman didn't eclipse Ben Affleck for the role of Batman in the latest film, we'll never know. The Redskins CB has all the makings of a Caped Crusader: a passion to win, a city that needs him and sworn enemies in Odell Beckham Jr., Dez Bryant and just about anyone else who gets in his way [fine print: Batmobile not included].

The Reluctant Star: Aaron Donald

Designed by Amy Hood
The secret to Donald's success: Mind, Body, Soul. He beats opposing offenses with his brains and might, but perhaps more than anything, it's Donald's soul that makes him unique. The Rams D-lineman puts the team before himself and doesn't seek out the limelight, despite having the stats to do so.

The Patriotic Party Boy: Rob Gronkowski

Designed by Corey Reifinger
They call him "Gronk," which is perfect for his gritty on-field demeanor -- and fitting for a guy who embraces his bizarre, frat-like sense of humor. It's a bummer New England's resident gridiron goofball (and star tight end) isn't healthy right now, but he keeps it clean, keeps it ridiculously fun, and always appears to be having a genuinely good time on the field.

More Stories