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Shoes with soul: Sunday NFL Countdown explores players’ colorful Week 13 cleats

Uni Watch’s take on the NFL’s customized cleats

Paul Lukas,’s Uni Watch columnist, looks at some custom cleats being worn during NFL Week 13.

Los Angeles-based artist Kickasso, aka Troy Cole, and Corey Pane of West Hartford, Conn., have turned cleats worn by NFL players into a unique canvas for their art. This weekend, these artists and their creations will be featured on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown (special time: 10 a.m. ET) in a piece by reporter Jim Trotter and producer Dominique Goodridge. The story coincides with the NFL’s first-ever “My Cause, My Cleats” initiative.

Kickasso, through Kickasso Kustoms, has designed custom shoes for players such as Broncos Super Bowl MVP Von Miller, Giants receivers Victor Cruz and Odell Beckham Jr., the Browns’ Joe Haden. Pane has painted cleats worn by the Steelers’ Antonio Brown, Falcons’ Devonta Freeman, and the Patriots’ Dont’a Hightower, among others.

A growing trend in the NFL, custom cleats are now regularly worn during pregame warm-ups as a vehicle for players to express their personalities and interests, or often as personal tributes to causes or individuals. They tend to feature unique patterns and bright colors and have become a real craze around the league.

Goodridge says she became interested in the story of custom cleats after she saw Brown’s shoes the first few weeks of the season. She looked into who painted them and her research led to Kickasso and Pane.

Goodridge and Trotter worked on the feature for several weeks. After the league announced its week 13 plans for the #MyCauseMyCleats campaign — designed to draw awareness to causes supported by the participating players through customized cleats, they knew this week’s Countdown show would be perfect timing for the story.

“Our goal is to give viewers access to things they can’t buy tickets to,” said Countdown producer Chad Minutillo. “The all-access look at the creation of custom pre-game cleats is just one example of how Sunday Countdown tries to give fans a peek behind the scenes of the NFL culture.”

Brown and Miller (who is featured in the preview video above) are among the NFL players who discuss how they use their cleats as a canvas for self-expression.

In addition to the feature, Kickasso and Pane will join host Chris Berman and analysts Trent Dilfer, Matt Hasselbeck, Randy Moss and Charles Woodson on the Countdown set to reveal some of their latest designs in football footwear.

Dominique Goodridge produced the video clip above.

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