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NFL custom cleats are here, so let's figure out what ours would look like

Players should get to wear the cleats they want when they want, because custom cleats look cool as hell.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

For one fleeting week, NFL players can wear custom cleats. The My Cause, My Cleats campaign will allow athletes one Sunday where the league’s uniform policy won’t apply below the ankle. More than 500 players will be wearing custom shoes to promote charitable efforts of their choosing in Week 13.

The causes represented will stretch far and wide. Cardinals running back David Johnson will use his to support the STOMP out Bullying Foundation. Patriots defenders Chris Long and Rob Ninkovich will use their shoes to support Waterboys, a foundation focused on bringing clean water throughout eastern Africa.

These cleats aren’t just for a good cause; they also look cool as hell.

A charity week is a great idea for the league and players alike, but it raises an important question; why can’t players wear their own cleats every game? The league doles out uniform violation fines as though a week where its athletes fail to wear matching shoes will bring Pestilence and its three friends down upon the world. If Week 13 comes and goes without a hellmouth opening up in front of the NFL’s headquarters, custom cleats should become an every week thing.

We know the players would go for it. Antonio Brown has earned the league’s ire for cleats honoring everything from his children to Muhammad Ali. DeAndre Hopkins had to cough up six grand for wearing Yeezy spikes. That’s just two prominent examples of players finding a way to honor their individuality in an otherwise strictly uniformed environment

So if you had the chance to customize your own cleat, how would you do it? That’s the burning question we asked the SB Nation NFL staff as Week 13 loomed.

Macho Man Randy Savage tribute cleats

It’s been five long years since one of the greatest Americans to ever walk God’s green earth left us to drop elbows on angels up in heaven, but Randy Savage has yet to leave our hearts. The six-time world champion was a multi-sport standout (baseball, wrestling, competitive Slim Jim eating) and truly the cream of the wrestling crop. At his peak, his popularity was rivaled only by future sex tape star Hulk Hogan, who politicked his way to the top of the industry as the expense of the significantly more talented Savage.

Savage wasn’t just a wrestler, however. His distinctive growl made him one of the most effective pressed-meat shavings salesmen of all time. His wardrobe defined an era. And his cleats would be a neon, pastel, zebra-print, sunbeam mashup that made it look like you threw the Saved by the Bell intro in a blender with a Patrick Nagel painting.

It would look something like this:

Ohhhhhh yeaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh.

Runner-up: Dusty Rhodes tribute cleats. “and Roger Goodell, you put hard times on this country...- Christian D’Andrea

Very good dog cleats

At SB Nation, our editorial perspective is decidedly pro-dog, because let’s face it, dogs are wonderful. The very best custom cleats would absolutely be cleats honoring very good dogs.

A couple of NFL players took that approach in Week 13. Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott had custom cleats featuring his dog, Ace, and encouraging people to adopt, volunteer and prevent animal cruelty. New England Patriots cornerback Logan Ryan is supporting The Pittie Stop Rescue, an organization that works to rehabilitate public perception of pit bulls and aid in their rescue.

Given the option of designing my own custom cleats for game days, I’d follow Elliott’s example and use my own very good dog, Hogan, as inspiration. Hogan is 14 years old, and I rescued him when he was a puppy, and he’s the best. The cleats would have a gold color scheme to match his fur, and they’d probably look kind of sassy to match his personality.

- Jeanna Thomas

A Tribe Called Quest cleats

Tribe just put out a dope new album, their first in 18 years that’s loaded with sports references, and you should totally listen to it if you haven’t. But we’re going to touch on some of the classics, here.

Many of the old references came from the late, great Phife Dawg. My cleats would look very similar to their album covers, with color schemes similar to “The Low End Theory” and “Midnight Marauders” in black, green, and red. The base of the cleats would be black, and some of Phife’s best sports references in words covering the shoes in red and green.

Some of them would include:

  • "Comin' with more hits than the Braves and the Yankees"
  • "(Expletive) around and have your heart, like Jordan had Starks"
  • "Ay yo Bo knows this, and Bo knows that, but Bo don't know jack, cause Bo can't rap"
  • "I'm Jordan with the mic, huh — wanna gamble?"
  • "Your styles are incomplete, same as Vinny Testaverde"

When customizing cleats, Phife’s words hold true. “Make something def or take that garbage to St. Elsewhere.” - Harry Lyles Jr.

Go Bucks cleats

Listen, folks. I grew up in Michigan and have been dealing with Wolverine fans my entire life. And after seeing them bow at the altar of Jim Harbaugh all year, and then hearing them whine for a week about the officiating in what was the best college football game of 2016, I don’t know if I’ve ever found them more unbearable than in this unholiest of years. So my choice is clear. I would plaster Curtis Samuel’s victorious, mid-air “are you not entertained?” touchdown pose on my cleats:

NCAA Football: Michigan at Ohio State
*heart emoji*
Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Last year, Ohio State fans had a popular refrain: Give the ball to Zeke. Ohio State kind of forgot how to do that for one game, and it was the team’s only loss. (As the NFL world quickly found out, feeding Ezekiel Elliott is the surest way to victory.)

This year, Ohio State fans sang a similar but slightly different tune: Give the ball to Curtis Samuel. The Buckeyes did it right before J.T. Barrett’s fourth-down run, and they did it right after. And for the 12th time in 13 years, they beat Michigan in what had to be the most disheartening (and delicious) loss of all for the Wolverines.

In an emotional week for Ohio State, nothing unites the school like crushing Michigan’s spirit. But even more than I’m fueled by spite, I am motivated by love. And I love my alma mater and my football team, and win or lose — but thankfully mostly win — I would represent the Buckeyes with excessive pride. - Sarah Hardy

Colin Kaepernick/Washington NFL team cleats

I’m not in the NFL, so who knows what team I’m on in this hypothetical scenario. But one thing I love is when egg avis on Twitter and other angry folks get mad at me for writing about football.

Let the hate flow through you, football fans.

My cleats would feature a photo of Colin Kaepernick kneeling and maybe a sign that says “GO WASHINGTON NFL TEAM” because those both seem to really piss people off. Other options include Cam Newton dabbing or Richard Sherman yelling.

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Believe me, the email inbox would be glorious the day after wearing these cleats. Sports fans can be a pretty sensitive bunch and can get mad at just about anything.

A year ago, I wrote a post about Tom Brady being “pretty pissed off” that calls didn’t go the New England Patriots’ way at the end of a loss to the Denver Broncos. Later that day I got an email that accused me of being a Brady homer with plenty of NSFW language, that ended with “Rider bitchass!”

I can only imagine the anger that would come with some cleats featuring Kaepernick. It’d be gold. - Adam Stites

Cleats with a view and a good cause

The Colorado Plateau, specifically the part that lies in the Southeast corner of the state of Utah, is one big sandstone layer cake shoved skyward by the whims of the Earth’s landmasses. Rivers coming down from the San Juan Mountains in Colorado slice that delicious red cake into labyrinth of mesas and mountains surrounded by deep canyons.

It’s the best spot on the planet as far as I’m concerned. And the most special place within that desolate, isolated location is a stretch of ground starting at the twin buttes called the Bears Ears and running south to the tip end of the massive Cedar Mesa. That’s my favorite little slice of geography, a place I’ve camped, hiked, mulled over breakups, pondered next moves, drank a lot of 3.2 beer (because Utah) and found some kind of center for myself, if you’re into the whole spiritual thing.

That slice of wonderful is also rich with archaeological treasures belonging to the ancestral Pueblo people who carved out a home for themselves in the cliffs nearly a thousand years ago. It’s also sacred ground to the Navajo, Hopi and Ute people who call the Four Corners region home. And if that weren’t enough to convince you just how special it is, the Plateau country has a very delicate ecosystem and its health is vital to the country’s entire Western slope.

But the Bears Ears and the region surrounding it are under threat from the extraction industries and the politicians the oil and gas and mining industries keep in their pocket.

My cleats would support the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition. The good guys. Two grassroots groups fighting to preserve the region and petition the President to grant Bears Ears the protection it deserves by making it a National Monument.

I’d also have some cool art on those shoes.

Bears Ears, photo via SUWA

And maybe like a topo map of the area as the background design and words reminding the TV cameras who caught a glimpse of them that public lands belong to all of us, not just the industries that can afford to buy off politicians. — Ryan Van Bibber