Miami artist Marcus Rivero on how Matthews’ custom ‘My Cause My Cleats’ were created

AP PHOTO/NAM Y. HUH

It’s Week 13 in the NFL, marking the return of the league’s “My Cause My Cleats” campaign, which began in 2016. The leaguewide initiative allows players to bypass uniform guidelines and wear customized cleats in support of a charitable cause of their choice. For his cleats, Matthews, a close friend and former college teammate of Kaepernick’s at the University of Nevada, honors his friend’s youth awareness campaign, the Know Your Rights camp.

“I dont have a foundation, so I have chosen to support my brother @kaepernick7 foundation @yourrightscamp for #MyCauseMyCleats,” Matthews wrote on Instagram, where he debuted the cleats on Wednesday. “He has paid the ultimate sacrifice in order to bring true everyday issues to light. Please follow the page & go to the website to learn more. We Should ALL Know Our Rights & Be Able to Express Them Freely.”

The cleats were designed by Miami artist Marcus Rivero, aka SolesBySir, who’s been customizing shoes for football players for the past five years, with an NFL clientele that includes Drew BreesPhilip RiversJoe FlaccoTom BradyJ.J. WattDeSean JacksonTerrell SuggsJalen Ramsey and more. Before Matthews takes the field against the Texans, The Undefeated caught up with Rivero, who detailed the design process of the shoes, from the wide receiver’s mind to the artist’s final brushstroke.


How did the idea for Matthews’ Kaepernick cleats come about?

Rishard and I have been working together all season. Our first pair was very calm because it was Rishard’s first time doing customs. As the weeks progressed, a lot of current events were coming up and he wanted to take stances. With My Cause My Cleats coming about, he basically told me … ‘I want to stand with Kaep.’ There’s been a bond there since the beginning. I was like, ‘OK …’ We went back and forth, and believe it or not, this was a hard design to do.

What made it hard to execute?

We didn’t know whether we wanted to color the cleats. Whether we wanted to do all-black, all-white, gold. Rishard thought about it, slept on it. And last minute, he said, ‘You know what? Let’s just keep it simple, black and white.’ So my job as an artist is just basically to take what people give you — so, with Rishard, black and white — and make it a loud message, which is difficult. If you’re working with neon green, neon yellow, you can play to your advantage. But when you’re working with black and white, which is the standard color for all cleats issued, it’s hard.

I told Rishard he needs 100 yards and at least a touchdown. Because that’s what the shoes deserve.

What was Rishard truly looking for?

The first thing I said was, ‘Rishard, I want to go one and one. Let’s make each cleat not look like the other.’ He loved the idea. He sent me over the logos of the Know Your Rights Camp, so I put it on both outsides of the shoe. On the inside of his right shoe, it says ‘Know Your’ and on the opposite shoe, it says, ‘Rights Camp.’ So if you put your heels together, and open them up like a V, somebody in front of you can read the opposite of what you’re reading.

I still wanted to add something. He goes, ‘Let’s put Kaep’s name, and some sort of logo.’ We kept bouncing ideas back and forth. One was a fist, like Tommie Smith and John Carlos. I just did a cleat for DeSean Jackson with a brotherhood-type theme, and we used a fist. So I really didn’t want to do it again. I wanted to stand on our own on this. Literally, Rishard and I are FaceTiming. And sure enough we’re Googling images, and then the idea hit us, like, ‘Oh, let’s do Kaepernick on a knee and use his Afro as a fist.’

Was it hard to draw the image of Kaepernick kneeling with his Afro as a fist?

It wasn’t so much. I have a Microsoft Surface Pro that I use to make designs. Then I turn them into a stencil, which helps me out. Unfortunately, I can’t hand-draw every letter. We have to do a lot stencilling so that I can lay down the stencil, spray and then peel it off, just timingwise. With the Surface Pro that I’ve been using, it’s generally been like a walk in the park for me. The Kaepernick logo has a lot of detail, but at the same time it doesn’t. It’s very simple. It’s a cool logo.

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  • Raising awareness one pair at a time.
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Did you know that 85% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history? Ladies, please go in for a check up, an afternoon visit can save your life.
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Be sure to check out my bud @vernondavis85 rocking these custom 1of1 “Pink 85’s “ this Sunday as the @redskins face off against the Cowboys. ...
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Just want to let you know you are, always have been, and will always be my motivation. Since the day I was born you have always believed in me and  sacrificed so much just for me. From late night homework when I was a kid, to rushing to the hospital after the accidents, to helping me pick up pieces of my life when I shattered things. Never judging me, never kicking me to the curb, and never waivering your love for me. My one goal in life is to be half the parent you have been to me, because even if I am just half I would still be more than enough. .
If your mom is your world, let her know. I know you probably are like me and don’t say it enough. They are the real superheroes in life, never get the credit they deserve, yet never stop doing everything they can. So mom, @trivero726 just want you to know I LOVE YOU, and I wouldn’t be the man I am today without EVERYTHING you have done for me. ...
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If you are reading this right now, no matter what you do for a living, no matter how “CRAZY” your dreams are, DO IT. Go after it, the biggest regret you can have in life is wondering “what if I....”, besides what’s the worst that can happen? You fail, you fall, you don’t “make it”? That’s just more motivation to try it another way. ...
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I’m proud to call these guys friends and their support has always been unwavering. Keep being great Vernon, and keep following your heart Tae.
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