Giants WRs to honor 9/11 anniversary with patriotic cleats

ByJordan Raanan ESPN logo
Friday, September 9, 2016

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz are preparing to kick off the season in patriotic style.

Beckham and Cruz plan to wear special 9/11 cleats before and during Sunday's season opener against the Dallas Cowboysat AT&T Stadium. They each have a pair for pregame and during the game that serve as a tribute to the 15-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 tragedy.

The cleats by Kickasso like Picasso will include American flag versions for the game. Beckham will wear a special 9/11 cleat during warmups, while Cruz will have a fire truck cleat with his late father's engine number on them. Cruz's dad was a fireman in Paterson, New Jersey.

"It's a special cleat for a couple reasons. I mean opening day is on 9/11," said Troy Cole, Kickasso's owner. "And Odell wanted to pay tribute to the heroes of 9/11, and not toward the tragedy aspect, with the falling building and the heroes all around kind of helping and saving people. That is why it's kind of special and going to be pretty cool."

Before every game Sunday, fans will see a taped video message from President Barack Obama and George W. Bush. Former President Bush will participate in the ceremonial coin toss with his wife, Laura, and two NYPD officers who responded to the attacks at Ground Zero 15 years ago.

The Giants' coaches and staff also plan to wear special 9/11 pins to honor the fallen and as a reminder of the tragedy that cost thousands of lives. Some players may be wearing special 9/11 gloves.

Sunday also marks Cruz's return -- his first game in 700 days. He's missed most of the past two seasons with knee and calf injuries.

His return will be his first time wearing a pair of custom cleats by Kickasso in a game. But it won't be Beckham's, as the receiver hooked up with Cole by reaching out to him via Instagram after entering the league. The two have worked together since.

Beckham has 20 to 30 pairs of custom cleats by Kickasso. Some of the most memorable are the Jokers that he wore before the Giants played cornerback Josh Norman and the Panthers last year and a light-up "Back to the Future" version from the Pro Bowl.

Beckham and Kickasso have other designs in the pipeline for this season. The themes include custom military, breast cancer awareness, special cartoons and, of course, a new Joker edition.

"That should be interesting," Cole said.

The custom cleat industry is spreading. Already Kickasso has worked or will work with Giants Olivier Vernon, Justin Pugh, Brad Wing and Josh Brown, to name a few. Pittsburgh Steelers star receiver Antonio Brown and the New York Jets' Brandon Marshall are also on his client list.

Kickasso's work will be on display on NFL fields across the country this week. The Jets' Buster Skrine will be wearing a flaming $100 bill version Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals. On the other side of the ball Sunday against the Giants, Cowboys wide receiver Terrance Williams will be wearing a pair that serve as a nod to Michael Myers and "Halloween."

The way Kickasso operates is that players provide themes or ideas and give him the freedom to produce the final product. He often teams with Beckham the week before a game, hashes out the general concept and has the cleats done and ready for the following week's contest.

Kickasso gets the cleats from the player or his team's equipment manager to make sure the style, size and fit are correct. He prefers it to be white so there is a blank canvas to navigate. From there, he makes the original designs happen.