Basketball has reigned supreme in the world of sneakers for decades, but football inspired kicks shouldn’t be forgotten. A large number of excellently designed collections that pay homage to college and professional football have been released, and these aren’t cleats. The most stylish sneakers in this vein are meant to be paired with your favorite digs and shown off on the street. In no particular order, here are ten of the best NFL inspired sneaker collections of all time.
1. Nike Train Speed 4 NFL Kickoff Collection
Year of Release: 2016
The latest NFL inspired sneakers to be released were the Nike Train Speed 4. The brand has designed a host of kicks that pay tribute to pro football, but this one came out on September 6, 2016 to celebrate the start of football season. Not only does the NFL Kickoff Collection have colorways that match fan favorite teams, the sneakers sport logos from their respective football franchises. The color blocking looks sharp, and these are sneakers that look good enough to wear even when you don’t have on a team jersey. Not only do the shoes look awesome in the daytime, they have a reflective glow that makes them stand out at night as well.
2. Nike NFL Draft Pack
Year of Release: 2012
Nike came out with a special sneaker to celebrate the 2012 NFL Draft, and it was a hit. The NFL Draft Pack was comprised of 32 different designs, one for each team, but these NFL inspired sneakers didn’t all have the same silhouette. Instead, each NFL division got its own style of shoe: the Air Trainer 1.3 Max Breathe for the AFC East, Huarache Free Shield for the AFC North, the AFC South got the Dunk High and Low, and AFC West shoes were styled in the Nike Air Trainer SC.
Other profiles included the Air Max 95 No-Sew for the NFC East, Air Max 90 for the NFC North, Free Trainer 5.0 for the NFC South, and the NFC West got the Free Haven 3.0. This was a limited edition sneaker that you now have to hit auction sites to find.
3. Nike CJ3 Trainer
Year of Release: 2015
NFL baller Calvin Johnson’s collaboration with Nike resulted in the CJ3, which is one of the most attractive looking sneakers with football inspiration around. The low profile kicks have a Flyweave overlay on the upper, are flexible and lightweight, and come with a major dose of style.
4. Marcus Mariota’s Air Force 1 Lunars
There have been several Nike Air Force 1 Lunar shoes released with colorways that match NFL team colors, but in 2015 Nike created a one off, exclusive custom design just for draft pick Marcus Mariota. These kicks have great styling and reflect Mariota’s Hawaiian heritage with traditional tattoo designs in rich brown placed all over the white shoe. Nike even presented the sneakers to him in a box crafted of Hawaiian Koa wood with the number 808 etched onto it, which is the area code of Honolulu, the city where the quarterback is from.
5. Nike Air Diamond Turf
Year of Release: 1993
Deion Sanders was a legend on the field, and his Nike Air Diamond Turf sneakers are just as epic as he was. Fans saw him wear these shoes to play a number of sports, including baseball, basketball, and football, and this shoe is so classic that it keeps returning to store shelves by popular demand.
6. Nike Field General 2
Year of Release: 2015
The successor to the Zoom Field General looks sharper and is equally suitable for wearing on the basketball court or football gridiron. Of course, many who aren’t athletes and simply like the shoe’s looks wear them with sweats and a tee around town. Either way, you really can’t go wrong with the style or performance of this sneaker.
7. Nike Zoom Vick II
Year of Release: 2004
Few will forget the days when the country was taken over by Vick fever, well before the former star quarterback got into legal trouble. That time saw a slew of Michael Vick related merchandise and gear hit store shelves, and one of the most well remembered is the Zoom Vick II. This shoe was the followup to the successful Zoom Vick I, and though these are definitely NFL inspired sneakers several pro basketball players have had no qualms wearing them on the court. Fans love the look and profile of the shoe so much that it was finally re-released in the summer of 2015.
8. Nike Air Trainer SC
Year of Release: 1990
These shoes are nostalgic for many sneaker collectors, especially those who are millennials. This was the first pair of Nike shoes that many of that generation had, and Bo Jackson turned these kicks into icons in their own right. In fact, few would argue if you said the Nike Air Trainer SC is the most iconic NFL inspired sneaker to ever be released.
9. Nike Air Trainer V Cruz
Year of Release: 2015
Those who prefer basketball shoes often knock NFL inspired sneakers for not being as good looking, but let the Nike Air Trainer V Cruz put all of that talk to rest. The wide receiver’s collection for Nike is a sure head turner and it features straps similar to the Zoom Revis. There’s so much that was done right with this shoe’s design that it’s sure to stay around on store shelves for years to come.
10. Nike Air Zoom Turf Jet ’97
Year of Release: 1997
Most sneakerheads know this shoe well, as it has a cult following and a storied history that’s fitting for the man who wore them as his signature trainers. If you were wearing these shoes back in the day it meant you not only had style, but you were a legit Sanders fan. These first debuted in 1997, but they’re so well liked that you can still find them on store shelves. The Nike Air Zoom Turf Jet ’97 was retroed in 2013, meaning there’s little chance that it will fade into obscurity anytime soon.