TMZ Sports just revealed that Antonio Brown had a pair of really dope cleats created for the Steelers game against the Dolphins on Sunday. The custom cleats feature Kimbo Slice and Jose Fernandez on them:
Just one problem: Brown will probably only be allowed to wear the cleats during warmups on Sunday since the NFL has cracked down on players who wear custom cleats during games this season.
The league did allow Brown to wear a pair of cleats that paid homage to the late Arnold Palmer a couple weeks ago, but after just two offensive series last Sunday, referees told Brown he had to take off a pair of Muhammad Ali tribute cleats he was wearing or else he would not be allowed to continue to play. Referees also asked him to take off a pair of custom cleats featuring photos of his kids earlier this season, and it's clear that the NFL is cracking down on players who wear custom cleats due to the strict uniform code that they have in place.
Like a lot of people, Brown's fellow wide receiver Victor Cruz doesn't think this is right. In his mind, the league is missing out on a huge opportunity by asking players not to wear custom cleats. Complex caught up with Cruz earlier this week for an interview about how he's using the Nike Air Trainer Cruz to help fight breast cancer. And during that interview—which you can read in its entirety here—Cruz touched on the custom cleat craze, which he has played a part in by wearing custom cleats like the 9/11 cleats he wore during Week 1. Here's what he had to say about it:
Customs cleats have been a big issue this season, with the NFL dishing out fines to players that break its strict uniform rules. How do you feel about that?
Cruz: I’m a heavy customs guy. I’ve been wearing customs since Week 1. I think we’re forcing the league to open their minds to how they can market themselves. Instead of fining it and looking for negatives, why not embrace it and turn it into a marketing opportunity? Kids want the custom Antonio Brown cleats, they want to go out and buy the Odell Beckham Jr. cleats. Why fine it because it doesn’t fit the mold of a rule you made back in 1955?
At some point, you would think that the NFL would have to reconsider its policy against custom cleats. But then again, this is the NFL, an organization that's typically unwilling to budge much when it comes to uniform issues. So who knows? In the meantime, we'll just have to keep our eyes peeled for all of the crazy custom cleats that players are wearing during warmups.