Sneaker News NINE@NINE: Nike Football Signatures

Sneaker News NINE@NINE: Nike Football Signatures

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We’re in a new age of Nike/NFL tie-ins now that the sportswear giant has the outfitting rights for the league. The five year contract started back in April of 2012 and immediately had an effect on Nike’s sneaker output. Let’s not forget though that the brand has long been committed to the idea of gridiron sneakers. In fact, University of Oregon quarterback Dan Fouts was one of the first athletes Knight and co. got to wear their sneakers outside of their circle of track stars. Back then, pairs like the Nike Astro Grabber with its waffle kit on bottom and the Nike Turfster with its more straightforward cleat design proved as early as 1972 that Nike meant business in the football footwear realm.

This latest Sneaker News NINE@NINE piece fast forwards from that era to the flashier 1990s when the brand started giving out signature silhouettes to football players. It was then that their football designs started to get a real foothold in the lifestyle realm, where a good amount of them still see plenty of love thanks to the positive response for the retros over the years. Continue reading to browse through some of the most important Nike football signature models with us and let us know down in the comments if there is a pair among these that’s closest to your heart.

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Nike Air Trainer SC (Bo Jackson) – 1990

Bo knows a great many things, and one of them is of course, football. At first Bo had to wrestle the likes of the Air Trainer 1 away from John McEnroe, but by 1990 he was a full blown star at the forefront of the SC line. You remember these for that classic “Auburn” colorway and their appearances in the infamous W+K ads.

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Nike Air Diamond Turf (Deion Sanders) – 1993

A flashy sneaker for a flashy player. Another one of Nike’s earlier signature models for a football player concerned a cross-sport phenom in Deion Sanders. The shoes featured some brilliant gold touches as a nod to Prime Time’s jewelry and both his baseball and football numbers as a nod to his schedule of juggling gigs in the NFL and MLB.

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Nike Air Mission (Junior Seau) – 1994

Junior Seau could be seen running through sandcastles on TV at the time of this shoe’s debut. These sneakers had to lie in wait longer than most for a retro treatment, as it took the Swoosh two decades to bring them back (Unless you count Eastbay’s turf version). Go get yourself a pair to celebrate the legacy of this fallen NFL great.

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Nike Air Max Speed Turf (Dan Marino) – 1995

Nike got behind a quarterback in 1995, and quite an impressive one at that. All-time great Dan Marino was the face behind the Nike Air Max Speed Turf, a sneaker that kind of epitomized Swoosh trainers in the 90s what with its Max bag, midfoot strap, and chunky height.

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Nike Zoom Turf Trainer (Barry Sanders) – 1996

Let’s not forget about Nike’s turf trainers that outfitted the outsole with a nubby treatment specifically tuned for play on that surface. Of course if you ever saw Barry Sanders zipping around in the the Nike Zoom Turf Trainer, which hiked up the strap a bit higher than normal, you’d have a hard time forgetting this classic Nike silhouette.

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Nike Total Air Bus Max (Jerome Bettis) – 1998

How do you make a signature shoe for a beast of a player like Jerome Bettis? Nike’s answer was to slide a huge amount of Air on bottom and make sure consumers knew just how “brawny” of a sneaker they were getting into with those cartoony print ads. Unfortunately, the Nike Total Air Bus Max hasn’t been seen since its 1998 debut.

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Nike Zoom Vick II (Michael Vick) – 2004

The partnership between Mike Vick and Nike saw the brand pumping out more football trainers than ever before, with the Nike Zoom Vick II perhaps being the peak of their output with its double last fit and sharp leather upper. The Nike Zoom Vick line came to a halt for obvious reasons, and Nike sort of stepped away from the football sig game for a while to reevaluate.

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Nike Zoom Revis (Darrelle Revis) – 2012

After the post-Vick drought, Nike finally picked things back up again with the Nike Zoom Revis in 2012. The trainer effort proved to be one of the most wearable ones for lifestyle purposes and was a mainstay in the PE and sample realm. Unfortunately, the sequel was cut short and the line looks to be facing extinction.

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Nike CJ81 Trainer Max (Calvin Johnson) – 2013

Megatron grabbed the mantle from Revis with his Nike CJ 81 series, which we just got the second edition of last week. The first go round featured plenty of flavorful releases – who could forget that epic trio of “Megatron” style pairs that came complete with a Hasbro transformer figure?

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