They’re a way for players to express themselves, distinguish themselves, even pay tribute to others.
“It’s kind of like a car. You get a car customized. You build a home from scratch almost. It’s your own. You might have something, whether it’s your kids’ names or hometown or something like that that means something to you,” says Darius Butler.
With cornerbacks Vontae Davis, Greg Toler, and Butler as clients, Marcus Rivero is the guy who keeps the Colts “No Fly Zone” looking fly.
Toler says custom kicks may not make you faster, but they may make you think you’re faster. And some days, that’s all you need.
“Playing DB (defensive back), you always heard, ‘You look good, you play good.’ So, you’re looking down, you feel good. It’s like being on the field with the nice, newest shoe, I guess.”
Only custom designed for you. And Rivero’s “1-of-1” policy means no pair will ever be duplicated.
A former football player himself, Rivero says he ended up in the cleat business by accident and he has an old girlfriend to thank for it.
“I actually was dating a girl who wasn’t a big sneaker fan,” he says. “One Valentine’s Day I said, you know what? I’m going to buy a pair of shoes…she didn’t like the color. She thought it was a beautiful shoe, ugly color.”
So, he did what any romantic, sneaker-loving male would do, and decided to paint them. The owner of a tire business in Miami, Rivero knew nothing about painting sneakers. But to his surprise, they turned out good.
And social media took care of the rest.
“She posted it on Instagram. She loved the shoe, obviously. And next thing you know, friends of ours started saying, ‘I want one for my wife or for my son.’”
There have been new uniforms, practice jerseys, and lots of pre-game warm-up gear.
But when Miami takes the field Saturday against Nebraska, Adidas – Miami’s new apparel outfitter – will be giving the Hurricanes something especially unique: customized, individually painted cleats.
Adidas teamed up with local South Florida artist – and UM alum—Marcus Rivero of Soles by Sir to create the specially designed shoes that will feature players’ names, jersey numbers and tributes to their home towns and families. In some cases, the tributes include messages of gratitude to former Hurricanes greats including Sean Taylor, Ray Lewis, Bryant McKinnie, Calais Campbell, Russell Maryland, Frank Gore, and Reggie Wayne, among others.
While that was the route many players chose to take when collaborating with Rivero about their shoes, some of the Hurricanes chose to thank former teammates and more recent former players like Brandon Linder, Duke Johnson and Denzel Perryman.
“I picked Brandon Linder just because he was a real big influence and helped me a lot,” offensive lineman Alex Gall said about his shoes. “He was only here for a year when I was here and a lot of people picked guys from way back, but I just felt I wanted to pick somebody who I’d played with and who had really helped me develop as the player I’m still trying to become. He’s also somebody I look up to as I watch him play for Jacksonville and he’s doing so well.”
For linebacker Raphael Kirby, there was only one option for his shoes: former UM great Ray Lewis.
“I feel like he’s the best ever to come through Miami as a middle linebacker,” Kirby said. “He’s the one that set the standard at the University of Miami and I appreciate that. I think it’s awesome. It shows how much we respect the past and lets us get a little fancy with our shoes. It was a cool idea.”
But Miami won’t be the only team wearing custom-designed shoes Saturday.
Nebraska – another Adidas school – will wear cleats that will feature palm tree designs as a tribute to the Cornhuskers’ 17 Orange Bowl appearances.