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How NFL Equipment Works

Shoes have become a huge part of professional sports, for two main reasons:
  • There is now a big commercial aspect to the shoes the players wear. Not only do many teams (like the Panthers) have a team-wide contract with a sports company (like Nike or Reebok), but many players also have individual contracts with a shoe company.

  • More importantly (from the team's standpoint), shoes can have a big effect on injuries -- especially injuries to the knees.
If a player wears the wrong shoe and it sticks to the turf, he gets knee injuries. An NFL team plays both on Astroturf and on natural grass, and the surface on game day can be dry, damp, wet or icy. Conditions can even change in the middle of a game. Each surface and condition requires a different shoe, and it's the equipment manager's job to anticipate the needs of the team and get the correct shoe on every foot.

Although the boxes look the same, there are different shoes here, sorted by style and "bottom."

Boxes and boxes of shoes in a multitude of styles and sizes line the walls of a team's equipment room. Players with shoe contracts can also fill out a form and have their shoes flown in via overnight delivery, and many order a new suite of shoes every week. Amazingly, an NFL team can burn through 2,500 pairs of shoes in a single season! (Most teams donate used shoes to local high schools.)

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