How Cam Newton is creating a sneaker-like culture in the NFL's world of cleats, starting with his own designs and inspirations.
Heading into Super Bowl 50, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has many options, for cleats that is. For his Super Bowl pregame selection, assuming he wins the NFL’s MVP Award on Saturday night, he'll have a few different options to choose from that help tell his story.
Josh Rattet, Under Armour’s vice president of team footwear, tells SI.com they have two cleats ready for pregame: one a gold option and another a MVP-specific choice, both in keeping with the move by Newton to entertain with his various footwear selections.
The non-MVP cleat is a version of Newton’s C1N signature Under Armour cleat in all gold with a “strap that pays homage to the 50th anniversary” of the big game. But don't expect to see much of the gold. Well, not if Newton wins the MVP award that is.
The sublimated graphic with a tonal “MVP” offers a chance to celebrate the potential achievement, giving Newton a second choice for the big stage. “Knowing Cam,” Rattet says, “I think he will wear (the MVP).”
If the Newton gets awarded the MVP award, Under Armour will also sell a limited number of the pregame cleats signed by Newton for $500, with half the money going to Newton’s charity.
Once the game starts, though, expect to see Newton opt for a “super premium platinum” combined with Carolina blue, one of his favorite color choices. “In the pregame, we set stories to show off his individuality in the team environment,” Rattet says. But when the game starts, it's a different story.
In an effort to cultivate a sneaker culture in the world of cleats, Newton has become the leader in pregame designs this season, with kicks that include a baby blue cleat with his newborn son’s name on the strap; a shoe with the name of every teammate included in a graphic; cleats that told stories of charities he supports; a Auburn cleat for the Iron Bowl; a Georgia Peach design for his native state; a Heisman Trophy-themed design plus all-black stealth and digital camo to build his "Super Cam" persona.
Blending the modern quarterback’s high-taste level, as Rattet calls it, into one of the few signature cleats in the industry, the Baltimore-based company nears the top of football cleat sales in the country.
“He’s fun to work with,” Rattet says. “He loves to experiment and try different things. We spent a lot of time with Cam in the offseason, building up these stories.”
The biggest story, though, will be written on Super Bowl Sunday.
Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, sneakers and design for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.