words // Brandon Richard
This past weekend, Nike Training released the first signature sneaker for All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson — the CJ81 Trainer. The red, white and blue launch colorway was inspired by Tyrone, Georgia’s Sandy Creek High School, where Johnson was a three-year starter and letterman in football. Features of the new Nike training shoes include adaptive traction, lockdown support and a cushioning system that will sustain Johnson’s grueling training regimen.
Additionally, you may have noticed that the Nike Air Slant is back in a few of its original colorways. The mid-90s cross-training classic was often lauded as one of the most durable sneakers of its dark, featuring a premium leather and mesh build that helped it meet the demands of the most committed athletes.
With the CJ81 Trainer launched and the Air Slant returning, we were reminded of 1996, when another Detroit Lions Pro Bowler was making sneaker headlines and the Air Slant released for the first time. Though the shoe didn’t carry his name, the Nike Air Zoom Turf will forever be linked to Barry Sanders, the ultra-elusive running back who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2004. Sanders laced up turf and cleated versions of the timeless model in the 1996 and 1997 seasons, when he racked up more than 3,500 rushing yards.
What do you remember about Barry Sanders, the Air Zoom Turf Jet or the Air Slant? Have a look at this vintage Eastbay page from August 1996 and share your memories with us.