words & images_Zac Dubasik
EVENT RECAP: NIKE UNVEILS AIR ZOOM ALPHA TALON CLEAT & 2011 PRO COMBAT UNIFORMS
Nike’s NFL uniform endorsement deal might not kick in until the 2012 season, but, as proven today, their focus on the future of football is already strong. Earlier, at Cowboys Stadium, in front of a large gathering of media, Nike unveiled their newest cleat, the Air Zoom Alpha Talon, along with their 2011 Pro Combat uniforms.
The day started with Matt James, Nike Master Trainer, introducing a SPARQ training session that was underway with local high school players. The stadium’s massive video screen lived up to, and surpassed, expectations, and served as what was undoubtedly the most epic SPARQ scoreboard of all-time.
Next, it was time to move into what can almost be described as a mini-stadium inside a stadium. The day’s emcee, retired NFL-great Desmond Howard, took over the stage, and first introduced Nike’s Vice President of Global Athletic Training, Kris Aman. Aman talked about the brand’s lifelong focus on athletes, their rich history in football, and commitment to progress. “Our success is based on creating breakthrough products and experiences unmatched in our industry, helping write the next chapter for Nike Football,” Aman explained. He also set out three components of the category: Train, Compete and Express, which encompasses the preparation, game day, and lifestyle facets to an athlete’s life.
From there, Aman brought out Design Director of Athletic Training, Ken Link, to tell the story of the Air Zoom Alpha Talon. This Link-designed shoe is Nike’s most advanced cleat yet, combining often-used existing technologies like Zoom Air and Flywire, with new uses of Deflex padding, and an adaptive traction system. Nike Football athletes Ndamukong Suh, Clay Matthews, Dwayne Bowe, Felix Jones and Steven Jackson next made an appearance to talk about how this new cleat can help each of their different games. Be on the lookout, because we will have much more technical detail of the shoe coming soon, including an interview with Link.
Once the footwear portion of the day had concluded, it was time to get a look at the 2011 Pro Combat uniforms, which were detailed by Nike?s Global Apparel Design Director, Todd Van Horne. After discussing the latest base layer advancements, including adjustable and interchangeable carbon fiber plates, we got a look at the upcoming uniforms of TCU, Florida, Boise State, and the University of Oregon?s National Championship gear. Not surprisingly, just as much technology went into the uniforms themselves as the base layer. The use of Flywire, chainmail mesh and Deflex padding in the Pro Combat uniforms plays directly into Nike’s “give the athletes what they want, and only what they want” philosophy.
Following the Pro Combat presentations, we had a chance to tour the massive stadium, and get a closer look at some of the upcoming products out of Nike Training, including the upcoming Zoom Huarache Trainer Low, and additional colorways of the Air Zoom Alpha Talon. It was an awesome experience, and a great reminder about how serious Nike is about football. With 2012 just around the corner, expectations are now higher than ever for when their NFL deal kicks in.