A Look at the Absence of Signature Sneakers in the NFL

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Young men across the nation have worked the majority of their lives for a chance to have their named called by the commissioner during the NFL Draft. Newly minted professional football players will place their signatures on everything from trading cards to contracts. One signature that is often absent, however, is a signature shoe. Of course, football is played in cleats and turf shoes as opposed to most other sports using sneakers, but in the age of trainer adaptations, it is still a wonder that more NFL players do not receive a sneaker of their own. With the 2013 NFL Draft beginning tomorrow, we at Nice Kicks wanted to take a look at some possible reasons why there has been a general lack of signature sneakers in the NFL, and why this trend may be changing.

Bo Jackson was one of the first NFL athletes with a signature shoe in the late ’80s

The game of football is one that requires a great amount of equipment. Padding and uniforms are necessary for protection, but are detrimental to endorsement opportunities. Besides possibly the top 15-20 players in the league, many of the players involved in the sport are unrecognizable to the masses. NFL athletes are rarely seen in a national or public setting while not on the field, which makes it difficult for the global fan base to connect on a personal level. Due to this disconnect, cashing in on the name of a professional football player can be difficult beyond the local scale, or a specific fan base.  As a result, offering a signature sneaker line for an athlete whose reach is capped by his region may not be in the best interest of sneaker companies.

Injuries may be a reason NFL players do not receive signature sneakers

Though football equipment has advanced by leaps and bounds, injuries are inevitable. It is often said that it is not a matter of if you will be hurt playing football, but when. This inherent risk is accepted by those involved, but too uncertain for many sneaker companies. There is no telling when a player they have invested a massive amount of assets into will go down for the season with an injury. Many of the sports’ brightest stars, including Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Troy Polamalu, have suffered injuries that have kept them out for significant amounts of time. Despite their popularity, none of these players have ever had a signature shoe. For perspective, LeBron James is on his tenth signature sneaker with Nike. Kobe Bryant is on his eighth signature with Nike, after having five previous signatures with adidas. Meanwhile, the average NFL career is only approximately six to seven years. Injuries and shorter careers are a direct result of the controlled violence that is football. The hesitancy of sneaker companies to commit unspecified amounts of money to NFL athletes, therefore, may also be linked to the likelihood of devastating injury.

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