The NFL has cracked down on players wearing custom cleats this season, even forcing Antonio Brown to change his shoes to avoid being kicked out of the game. That doesn’t mean they can’t wear them during warmups, but when it comes time for the opening kick, players have to adhere to league rules.
It’s generated a lot of criticism towards Roger Goodell and the NFL as a whole, but there’s a reason for it. Robert Kraft weighed in on the debate during an interview with Complex, saying he stands by the league’s decision to ban custom cleats.
“In fairness, we have sponsors who pay, and we share revenue. It’s the reason I think the NFL is so special. Green Bay, Buffalo, Tennessee – they all get to spend the same amount on players, not like other sports. So it’s really how well they manage their assets and resources.
“So if we let people start going off on their own, generating revenue and selling things, then the weaker teams are going to get hurt. So actually, I do support the league and what they do. Maybe there should be better judgement certain times.”
Kraft, a sneakerhead himself, does have a point. The league has a massive deal with Nike, and while players absolutely have their own endorsement contracts (Nike, Adidas, Jordan, etc.), wearing custom cleats that don’t adhere to uniform guidelines could actually hurt the league.
Not that the NFL has a problem generating revenue, but there’s a reason behind their seemingly silly rules banning certain cleats from the gridiron.