A typical pregame football routine might include stretching, hype music, a last-minute film review, a special meal, or a senseless superstition. For junior defensive back and wide receiver Chad Rockingham, preparation for an upcoming game includes one extra procedure: deciding which shoes to flex.
There are hundreds of different shoe brands, but Rockingham has his own big three. “The brand of cleats I wear are usually Under Armour, Adidas, or Nike. They are the best,” said Rockingham.
How does he decide between these three iconic brands? It depends on what he’s looking for. “I feel like Under Armour cleats are especially comfortable, but if I want something light on my feet, I wear Adidas. And Nike is probably the most stylish.”
However, there is one commonality between all of Rockingham’s kicks. “Almost all of my cleats have bright colors or just a unique type of pattern.”
This initially took me by surprise. I wear the same $30 black and white Nikes to school every day. So, I asked Rockingham why he preferred these expensive, vibrant, name-brand shoes, over a pair of cheap, generic ones. His response was quite logical: “I wear more expensive cleats because they are higher-quality. The material is nicer. I might get hurt easier with cheaper cleats.”
But that still didn’t quite explain the color aspect. Black matches everything, so why not just get a high-quality pair of shoes in all black?
“I want to show people that I’m not like everyone else,” he said. “I like to stand out.”
Buying football cleats is not as seamless of a process as I had imagined. Rockingham explained that there are different types of cleats for different football positions. “The cleats I wear are more for the skill guys [receivers and defensive backs]. They are lighter. If I were an offensive lineman, I wouldn’t wear my type of cleat. Offensive linemen need cleats with more ankle support. I can’t wear those cleats though because it would be harder to move outside at receiver.”
On a scale from one to ten, Rockingham said he rates his shoe game a ten. “I just have unique shoes and a special taste,” he said. His special taste brings a lot of people asking about his latest pair of kicks. “I usually tell them what website I got them from. But if it’s an opponent, I might laugh, joke with them, and tell them something different.”
At the end of the day, Rockingham says he wears his color-filled cleats for one particular reason: “I just want to be different.”