The NFL has never been known for having many signature athletes. It’s not a league like the NBA, where players are free from helmets and shoulder pads. As seen with Michael Jordan’s sneaker empire, the NBA has always encouraged individualism and building personal brands. The NFL has had a tougher time on that front.
To be a signature sneaker star in the NFL, there needs to be an universal appeal a player brings to sell shoes. Think a two-sport phenom like Bo Jackson, a charismatic showman like Deion Sanders, a human highlight film in Michel Vick or even an underdog who crossed over into fashion like Victor Cruz.
Patrick Mahomes and Saquon Barkley are the latest football players to receive the distinct honor of having their own trainers. Mahomes is arguably the best player in the NFL and is a big part of Adidas’s football future. The brand recently released the Mahomes 1.0 IMPACT FLX training shoe. Barkley recently unveiled the Nike Saquon Air Trainer III—a sneaker Bo Jackson made popular two decades ago. Barkley’s version plays on ’90s culture and New York street style.
So which other current players deserve their own kicks? It’s time to examine the best prospects.
Kyler Murray, Cardinals (Nike)
Murray is a superstar on the rise. The third-year QB is a big reason why the Cardinals are a dark-horse contender this season. He’s electric, and he showcased in the first game of the season why he deserves your attention after throwing four touchdowns and running one in the end zone. He’s also a former two-sport athlete and is a member of the FaZe Clan. Murray is everything you would want in a signature-sneaker QB in the social media age.
Dak Prescott, Cowboys (Jordan Brand)
Prescott recently joined Jordan Brand after spending time with Adidas. He became the only QB and the highest-paid NFL player on the Jordan roster. The deal is a smart move for Jordan as the brand builds its presence in football. The Cowboys are a major draw as “America’s team,” and Prescott sports a cool 2.3 million instagram followers. Dak has already worn a few Air Jordan 1 cleats on the field and will have the opportunity to dive into the Jordan vault to pull out anything he wants.
Lamar Jackson, Ravens (sneaker free agent)
Jackson remains the biggest unsolved puzzle when it comes to NFL stars without sneaker deals. He is arguably the most marketable player in the league, but has not rushed to sign a deal with a company. The former MVP told Sports Illustrated that he is open to signing with a brand if the right opportunity comes along. He has his own brand, Era 8 Apparel, and mentioned that he wants to build his own thing.
“I feel like other major brands and stuff already have their guys. I am not going to say they are cocky, but they already made billions of dollars and they have been doing it for so long, way before I was born like Nike and stuff like that. I might as well just do it myself and I love clothes and I love shoes and I want people to look at my stuff and say, ‘Oh that is different.’ ”
DK Metcalf, Seahawks (Under Armour)
Metcalf quickly became an NFL favorite when he entered the league. He’s really good, and he is also built like Thanos. Workout marvels like Bo Jackson and Metcalf have always drawn attention to brands. Metcalf is a world-class runner who ran the 100-meter dash in 10.36 seconds at 6′ 4″ and 235 pounds! There’s just one big problem in giving Metcalf his own sneaker. He is signed to Under Armour, and the brand’s deal with the NFL recently expired. The company’s branding cannot be shown on the field. Definitely a missed opportunity to build around a dynamic athlete.