The NFL usually frowns on customized footwear, but that will change this Sunday, as hundreds of NFL players will be wearing custom-designed cleats to support charitable foundations and raise awareness of important causes.
When it comes to charity and sacrifice, there are no "best" or "worst" designs, no brand loyalties, no "My kicks are better than your kicks" -- all of these cleats are winners. Still, some are particularly notable, either for their visual impact or for the storylines behind them. Here are a dozen that have caught your friendly uniform columnist's eye this week:
Von Miller, Broncos
Miller, who has worn glasses since the second grade, has a foundation called Von's Vision, which provides low-income Denver children with the eye care and corrective eyewear. His cleats feature an eye-catching eye chart motif. Additional info here.
Vernon Davis, Washington
Custom cleats this Sunday for Washington TE Vernon Davis. pic.twitter.com/8wQ0KlECaE— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) December 1, 2016
Davis always had an artistic impulse but kept it under wraps as a kid because other children ridiculed him. He now has a personal foundation that promotes art education and appreciation among disadvantaged youth. His cleats have a paint-splatter theme that nicely captures the spirit of artistic improvisation. Additional info here.
Devin McCourty, Patriots, and Jason McCourty, Titans
Custom cleats for the McCourty Twins. Devin will wear them on Sunday; Jason will wear them in Week 14 (Titans have bye this week). pic.twitter.com/lnwKlf60BV— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) December 1, 2016
Twin brothers Devin and Jason McCourty have sickle cell disease in their family, and they have a foundation devoted to battling the disease. Their custom cleats show the foundation's logo along with both brothers, in uniform, defending a pass. Devin will wear his shoes this Sunday, while Jason will have to wait until Week 14, because the Titans have a bye this week. Additional info here.
Doug Baldwin, Seahawks
Custom-painted cleats being worn this Sunday by Seahawks WR Doug Baldwin, spotlighting Southern Youth Sports Ass'n (whose logo is a tiger). pic.twitter.com/QZ1HOZvc78— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) December 1, 2016
Baldwin represents the Southern Youth Sports Association, whose logo is a tiger -- hence the tiger stripes on the cleats he'll be wearing this Sunday. Although Baldwin plays for the Seahawks, it seems like a safe bet that everyone on the Bengals will soon be clamoring for a design like this one.
Brock Osweiler, Texans
Custom cleats this Sunday for Texans QB Brock Osweiler, spotlighting Ronald McDonald House. McD's arch formed when shoes placed together. pic.twitter.com/7rd2gNJxAR— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) December 1, 2016
Osweiler is showing his support for Ronald McDonald House Charities, which provides assistance to families with sick children. His cleats have a nice design element: If the two shoes are positioned together side by side, McDonald's signature golden arches are formed.
Aaron Rodgers, Packers
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers' cleats this Sunday will support Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer, whose logo features green/gold. pic.twitter.com/hAVHWa1lnO— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) December 1, 2016
Rodgers supports the MACC Fund -- that's Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer. The organization's logo features a green child and a gold child, so Rodgers will wear one green shoe and one gold shoe -- which should also mesh nicely with Green Bay's color scheme.
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger's cleats this Sunday spotlight his personal foundation, which which supports rescue units w/ an emphasis on K-9 units. pic.twitter.com/piOjT2cRpR— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) December 1, 2016
Here's another case of a big-name quarterback who'll be wearing two different-colored shoes. Roethlisberger's personal foundation supports police and fire departments, with a particular emphasis on K-9 units and service dogs, which explains the K-9 logo on his cleats. Not the flashiest design you'll see this Sunday, but the mismatched colors should definitely stand out.
Johnny Hekker, Rams
Has any NFL player ever worn a cleat with a two-tone paint job, split down the center? It's a really sharp look, and Hekker will be wearing it in support of Waterboys, a group that partners with NFL players to provide clean drinking water to rural East African communities.
Cameron Jordan, Saints
Saints DE Cameron Jordan's cleats this Sunday will support the United Way. pic.twitter.com/suDgMQOk9S— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) December 1, 2016
The United Way and the NFL have been partners for generations. The nonprofit group's blue, red and orange logo is a perfect fit for the color scheme on Jordan's cleats -- nicely done.
Pierre Garçon, Washington
Pierre Garçon's custom cleats this Sunday will spotlight his foundation, which supports education, health and community programs in Haiti. pic.twitter.com/8YodyJneXa— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) December 1, 2016
Garçon, who is Haitian-American, has a foundation that supports sustainable initiatives in Haiti. With its vibrant colors and silhouetted logo, this will be one of the boldest designs of the week. Additional info here.
Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys
Custom cleats being worn tonight by Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott, spotlighting SPCA of Texas. pic.twitter.com/GT6e0z0Tp0— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) December 1, 2016
Elliott already wore his custom cleats in last night's game against the Vikings, but they're too good not to include here. Elliott is a lifelong animal lover, so his cleats supported the SPCA of Texas and featured paw prints and dog bones, along with a portrait of Elliott's own dog, Ace. Additional info here. (Elliott isn't the only player using his feet to support our four-footed friends. Check out the pair being worn on Sunday by Logan Ryan of the Patriots.)
Stefon Diggs, Vikings
Vikings WR Stefon Diggs' custom cleats for tonight show support for the American Heart Association with an anatomical heart design! pic.twitter.com/IeNjvZrW2d— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) December 1, 2016
This is another one from last night. Diggs supported the American Heart Association with a design that showed the inner workings of a human heart, complete with veins, valves and more. Very anatomical! (Several other players are also representing the AHA on their cleats with more conventional but nonetheless powerful designs, like this pair being worn by Saints Brandin Cooks of the Saints.)
Paul Lukas, if he were playing in the NFL this week, would wear cleats supporting the Southern Poverty Law Center. If you like this column, you'll probably like his Uni Watch Blog, plus you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Want to learn about his Uni Watch Membership Program or Uni Watch T-Shirt Club, be added to his mailing list so you'll always know when a new column has been posted, or just ask him a question? Contact him here.