Nike Football: The Bond of a Brotherhood

Nike Football: The Bond of a Brotherhood

Football is a unique sport. It takes extreme athleticism, unparalleled guts, and a strong work ethic every single day to be successful in America’s most popular game. It’s also the ultimate team sport. Even superstars like George Kittle, Aaron Donald, Stephon Gilmore, and Cooper Kupp – who possess all the talent in the world – need to rely on their teammates in crucial situations to keep winning games.

With the responsibility of a win weighing on everyone’s shoulders, a successful team must build a strong bond of trust throughout their squad. How is that done, you ask? For Aaron Donald, a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, it’s all about building and maintaining relationships on and off the field. 

“The bond and brotherhood you build with your teammates is beyond football,” Donald said. “When you’re able to battle with a guy on the field and also have a good time with him off it, you tend to have fun playing with that guy knowing he has your back.”

Another defensive player of the year, Stephon Gilmore, echoed what Donald had to say about a brotherhood being formed, but attributed that bond strengthening after overcoming obstacles as a team instead of individuals.

“When you overcome adversity as one, you gain a great deal of respect for those people who have shared that experience,” Gilmore said. “That mutual respect is the brotherhood.”

Even for the ultimate, alpha competitors like George Kittle, guys take time to reflect on the camaraderie formed just from playing the game together.

“I’m going on nine years with (quarterback) C.J. Beathard,” Kittle said. “We did five years at Iowa and now we’re going on year four in San Francisco. I’ve got a bond with him that I’ve never shared with anyone else in my life just because we played football. It’s crazy and that’s one thing I love about the game.”

And it’s not just the personal rapport these men build with each other, it also comes in the form of winning on the field. Los Angeles wide receiver Cooper Kupp took a more systematic approach when talking about how football is the ultimate team sport.

“You rely on the guys to the left and right of you to do their job effectively,” Kupp said. “Without group efficiency, you won’t be effective as a team. From the offensive line, to running back, to wide receiver, and quarterback, if one person isn’t right, the only chance to save that play is for someone else to pick up the slack.”

Winning obviously helps the bond between teammates grow stronger, but there’s also something to be said about the mutual respect gained throughout the heat of a battle, even in a loss. For these men, their differences don’t’ matter — when they step onto the field, they’ve got each other’s backs no matter the cost. That’s the brotherhood football creates.

“Our greatest successes and worst failures happen right there next to one another,” Kupp said. “Those experiences provide incredible opportunities to lift each other up and overcome things together.”

How to Find the Best Baseball Glove

How to Find the Best Baseball Glove

The right baseball glove can make all the difference but choosing the right glove for you can be a daunting task. To help simplify things, we created a guide that takes you through the steps to find the perfect glove for your position and needs.

First off, you need to know the basic anatomy of a baseball glove. There are five main parts that make up a traditional glove, starting with the webbing. The web of a glove sits between your thumb and pointer finger, creating a deep pocket to help secure the ball on catch. Next is the lacing that connects the finger pockets together. Check the material of the laces and make sure it matches up with the overall material of your glove, so both will break-in and form to your hand during the same timeframe. The hinge of a glove is also very important when breaking in your new glove. The hinge is usually found near the base of you little finger pad and is the flexible part that helps you open and close the glove quickly. Located next to the hinge is the heel of the glove. The heel is the very bottom portion of the glove that provides padding to protect your wrist when fielding nasty grounders. Lastly, you have the palm of the glove, which, you guessed it, protects the palm of you hand when securing a ball that you couldn’t quite snag in the webbing of your pocket.

Another confusing aspect of buying a baseball glove is what materials you want your glove to be made from. Baseball gloves come in a variety of different leathers that all sound similar but provide different benefits. For example, most gloves are made from some sort of leather, but depending on the type and cut, gloves will take more or less time to break-in and reach peak performance. The baseline material for gloves is cowhide. Cowhide is great for younger players who are just starting out, because it offers a quicker break-in, but also wears out faster than higher-quality leather gloves. A step above cowhide leather is steerhide. Steerhide is a bit stronger, stiffer, and heavier than cowhide, offering a tougher break-in, but better performance once broken in. Finally, most professional glove models use premium, full-grain leather. This type of leather will be more expensive and will take the longest to break-in but it provides extreme durability and its trusted at the highest level of the game.

After you select your glove material, you should take a look at the webbing options your glove has to offer. A glove’s web is very beneficial based on your position and style of play. Below we’ve outlined the different types of webs available and the advantages to using each.

Fielders

Cross: The cross web is simple, yet effective. Utilized by infielders and outfielders alike, this web features one vertical leather strip and two horizontal strips, creating a flexible feel. Also known as the Single Post web, it creates maximum visibility when catching the ball.

H-Web: True to it’s name, the strips of leather in this web form the shape of an “H”. The H-Web is used by outfielders and infielders alike because of the sturdier base and unmatched visibility. Some brands also refer to this style as a Dual Post Web.

I-Web: As an iteration of the cross web, the I-webbing features a large leather post in the shape of an “I”. This pattern is used exclusively by infielders and helps snag grounders without catching a bunch of dirt and debris with the ball. Some brands also refer to this webbing style as an H-Web, but is predominately called an I-Web. 

Modified Trap: The modified trap web is usually used by pitchers and infielders because of its deep pocket combined with a small section of leather to add stability for ground balls.

Trapeze: This webbing is great for outfielders who spend a lot of time catching fly balls. The thin leather strap features interlaced lacing on both sides, allowing for a deeper pocket.

Two-piece: The two-piece web is a great option for pitchers because it allows them to conceal the ball from the batter. The solid pocket creates a heavier feel but its extremely durable, preventing wear and tear.

Catchers

Half Moon: The half moon catcher’s web is designed for flexibility. The pattern uses two large leather pieces that are laced together to create a secure pocket and easier close.

One-piece: The traditional one-piece catcher’s web uses lacing around the edges to create a tight pocket that’s shallow enough for a quick transfer and release of the ball.

First Basemen

Modified H-Web: The modified H-Web is made for first basemen because of its extra leather strip on the top of the glove that helps expands catch radius for easier scoops and fielding at first base.

Single Post Double Bar: Much like the infielders’ cross pattern, the single post double bar pattern creates more visibility for catching throws at first base.

Now that you’ve done your research and are ready to find the perfect mitt, check out our selection of top-tier baseball gloves at eastbay.com!

A Look Back: Back to school in the late ‘90s

A Look Back: Back to school in the late ‘90s

Back in the late ‘90s, back to school was everything. What a time it was. 20 years ago, I was a teenager who spent plenty of summer nights in August flipping through those Eastbay catalogs, thinking about all the shoes I wanted to show off in class. I was not old enough to work yet, so staring at all the sneaker options was both heaven and torture at the same time. I knew how good we had it. I knew how fire every shoe in those catalogs was — I  just couldn’t afford anything. Fortunately, as time has passed, the good people at Nike have brought back plenty of the sneakers I could only stare at as a kid.

I didn’t think much about it back then, but over the past few years, I’ve realized how many interesting variations Nike made on classic models that were made just for the youth. Here’s a look back at some of the best back to school” sneakers from the late ‘90s — made  just for the young athletes.

1996

Fresh off their incredible 72-10 championship season, the sneakers Chicago wore (and anything that resembled them) were the hot items going back to school that fall. Michael Jordan’s AJ XI had a low-cut version that was available for kids in both black and white. MJ sported the black/red model in the playoffs very briefly, but he never wore the white version in an NBA game.

Additionally, the sneaker Scottie Pippen sported throughout the ‘96 Finals, the Air More Uptempo, also featured a takedown version with a heel Air Sole unit. Gary Payton famously rocked the white Much Uptempo during the ‘96 Summer Olympic Games. Speaking of the Olympics, the Air Zoom Flight was worn by Orlando star Penny Hardaway that summer, and all the kids wanted to be like Penny back then.

1997

You may recognize the Air Jumpman Pro since they are back on shelves in 2019. The Jumpman Pro was a popular takedown version of the Air Jordan XII and was featured in some similar colorways to Jordan’s 12th model. There was also an Air Pippen model for Scottie, and the Total Max Uptempo was worn by stars like Reggie Miller. Both the Pippen and Uptempo featured the biggest visible Air Sole units Nike had ever made.

The Superturf, which was the children’s version of Barry Sanders’ Super Zoom model, was an extremely underrated sneaker in terms of design and style. It featured the new Zoom Air technology for a low-to-the-ground feel for sharper cuts and quicker acceleration on the field. And don’t forget about that Air Hawk Flight, which was made for the Sonics’ Gary “The Glove” Payton.

1998

1998 featured some of the most slept-on sneakers, including the Air Max 98 TL and the Air Pippen II. Neither of these sneakers got much love, which is too bad because they were great designs and ultra comfortable. In this particular picture, there are two Air Max running models shown: the Air Max 98 and Air Max 98 TL. The kids’ models featured different soles than the adults’ (letter “A” is the Air Max 98 with an Air Max 95 sole. Letter “B” is the 98 TL but with an Air Max 97 sole). It would be really cool to see both come back with these soles attached.

The Pippen sneaker was Scottie’s second signature model, and he won his last championship with the Bulls while rocking them. Over the years, they’ve been retroed but without much fanfare. The Air Sunder was a very popular training sneaker back in ‘98 but has fallen under the radar over the years. Anyone who owned a pair loved them and would love to see them return. They came in a ton of different colors and definitely had that wild, crazy late ‘90s vibe going for them.

1999

1999 was an insane year for back to school with two full pages to choose from. Some of the most notable sneakers included the Air Jordan XIV in five classic colors, along with the Air Jordan XIII Lo in the black/chutney colorway that has yet to retro. Also of note was the Nike Youth Air Max, otherwise known as the Air Tuned Max for adults. This model featured an Air Max 97 sole instead of the Tuned Air Max sole, and if Nike brought this exact model back, it would be a huge hit.

For Jordan Team fans, the Jumpman Quick 6 was available for the young guards, as well as the Jordan 3 Percent for the kids who liked to cross train. The 3 Percent was named after Michael Jordan’s body fat percentage, which was incredibly low. One last Jordan model was the Jumpman VINdicate made for power forwards like the Bucks’ Vin Baker.

Overall, Nike was making big statements in footwear fashion and technology, which is why so many kids chose to rock Nikes for back to school. And for those of us who couldn’t have everything back then, we’re slowly trying to cross off everything we wanted on our checklists as Nike and Jordan continue to retro more and more of these classics. It’s like we’re reliving our childhood all over again.

 

Darnell Savage Jr.: 3 tips to prepare yourself for success

Darnell Savage Jr.: 3 tips to prepare yourself for success

Darnell Savage Jr. doesn’t shy away from a challenge. As far back as he can remember, he’s been proving doubters wrong and shattering the expectations set for him.

“Even as a young kid, I always felt like I had something to prove,” Savage said. “I feel like I hold myself to a higher standard than anybody. I think my goals are far above what other people would expect them to be.”

Savage Image 1

So, while some may have been shocked to see Green Bay pick Savage with the 21st overall pick in the draft, he viewed it as confirmation of his talents and a chance to show the rest of the world what he’s really made of.

Eastbay got to sit down with the 21-year-old defensive back, and he gave us some insight on how he prepared himself for the spotlight. His three pieces of advice are:

1. Embrace your setbacks. They only make you stronger.

Savage Image 2

In his junior year of high school, Savage broke his right femur, resulting in a long road to recovery that would challenge the young star mentally and physically. But Savage didn’t use the injury as an excuse – he vowed to come back bigger, faster, and stronger.

“Just being out of football and not being able to do simple stuff on my own was definitely difficult,” Savage said. “It challenged me mentally but also helped me grow as a player and a person. Luckily, I only broke a bone and bones heal. So I’m actually thankful for it.”

2. Become a student of the game

Savage Image 3

When Savage entered the draft, most of the talk about the promising prospect revolved around his physical attributes. Media and scouts alike focused on his gaudy combine numbers and insane play speed in the secondary. But if you ask Savage himself, he says that his understanding of the game is what makes him stand out in a league filled with talented defensive backs.

“My best attribute is my mind. I’m an extremely smart football player and that allows me to play a lot faster and with a lot more confidence,” Savage said. “Knowing what everybody on the field is trying to do also allows me to play in a bunch of different spots. I can play corner, nickel, or safety, and I think that brings value.”

3. Don’t just talk the talk. Walk the walk.

Savage Image 4

Savage’s last piece of advice is simple and straightforward – if you’re going to talk up your play off the field, you better be able to back it up on the field.

“I’m usually pretty quiet and humble because at the end of the day, it’s your play that speaks,” Savage said. “You can say whatever you want, but once the coaches turn on the tape, they’re either going to see what you said or they’re going to see something completely different. So, if I do talk about my abilities, I mean it, and I’ll back it up when I’m out there on the field.”

To shop the Under Armour Rush product and training gear Darnell Savage Jr. uses to elevate his game at the highest level, visit eastbay.com.

Nike International Soccer: Rock the Right Kit This Summer

Nike International Soccer: Rock the Right Kit This Summer

It’s about that time again — the greatest tournament in soccer is just around the corner. The feeling is palpable, the intensity is unmatched; fans’ emotions hang on every pass, every shot, and every save. But before the madness starts and chaos ensues, you need the correct kit to display your pride.

This year, Nike designed all their kits with detailed input from professional players, followed by 3D scanning and motion capture in the Nike Sports Research Lab to properly define their women’s-specific fit. On many kits, they also added slogans on the inside of the neckline to give inspiration to the wearer.

Let’s take a closer look at each country’s newest Nike jersey and what makes the designs special to the athletes who sport them.

United States Home Kit

Inner Pride – “Climb Again”

The USA home kits have a deep, personal meaning to many of the players on this year’s national team. The Nike Swoosh and red-and-navy stripes on the arm cuff pay homage to the 1999 team, whose iconic tournament win inspired many current athletes to get into soccer in the first place. The jerseys feature three stars above the crest to signify the United States’ three tournament trophies while the 50 states print on the back represents the nation’s collective support for the team.

United States Away Kit

Inner Pride – “Hold Fast. Stay True.”

While the home kits pay tribute to the past, the away design is a nod to the future. The inspiration behind these kits is that being American is about standing out and boldly displaying your pride. The stars-and-stripes pattern spread across the all-red jersey is symbolic of the American flag. Although these kits focus on what’s next, Nike still wanted to pay tribute to the USA’s past accomplishments, so they placed three white stars representing the three championships on the royal stripe at the back of the neck.

Brazil Home Kit

Inner Pride – “Mulheres Guerreiras Do Brasil” meaning “Women Warriors of Brazil”

Pelé, Ronaldinho, Marta. When you think of these famous Brazilian footballers, you think of the iconic yellow they sported while creating some of the most memorable moments in international soccer history. Nike didn’t stray far from Brazil’s traditional look with these kits, embracing the colors the Brazilian national team has worn since 1954.

Brazil Away Kit

Inner Pride – “Mulheres Guerreiras Do Brasil” meaning “Women Warriors of Brazil”

Brazil’s royal away kits start with a bold geometric pattern at the neck that slowly fades towards the bottom of the jersey. The pattern is inspired by bright stars and the royal color represents the sky on a cool, clear night in Rio. Brazil also pays tribute to their men’s team tournament wins with five stars above the crest.

England Home Kit

Inner Pride – “The Lionesses”

Clean and Classic. That’s the best way to describe England’s home kits. The traditional white is sacred to England and Nike wanted these jerseys to display the country’s loyalty and heritage. If you look closely, you’ll find a very subtle, tonal floral print that represents the roses specific to the neighborhoods around London. These jerseys also display red-and-maroon striping on the sleeve cuffs to punctuate the crispness of the white base.

England Away Kit

Inner Pride – “The Lionesses”

Where England’s home kits embrace a minimalistic design, the away jerseys boast an aggressive maroon floral print, hand drawn to include poppy, primrose, and rose – the native flora of the country. Nike separated the pattern into four quadrants, a nod to St. George’s Cross. These kits use an off-white color for the logo that keeps the overall theme bold, but still evokes the history of a proud nation.

France Home Kit

Inner Pride – “Nos Différences Nous Unissent” meaning “Our Differences Unite Us”

For this year’s host country, Nike decided to honor tradition by staying true to France’s “Les Bleus” national team nickname. The solid navy base is accented with rose gold lettering, providing the proper pop for the iconic French Football Federation crest. The jerseys also include a subtle hint of red, white, and blue taping at the sleeve to represent the French flag. According to Nike, these kits personify the sophistication of the French and are a nod to the high-end, exclusive clothing produced by the country.

France Away Kit

Inner Pride – “Nos Différences Nous Unissent” meaning “Our Differences Unite Us”

To contrast the solid blue home jerseys, Nike’s white away kits feature a pattern of small hexagons, spread across the shirt like polka dots, that pay tribute the France’s unique border shape. The inner pride phrase, “Nos Différences Nous Unissent,” is printed with a small “o” to represent Chanel and France’s rich history of fashion.

Australia Home Kit

Inner Pride – “Never Say Die”

Described by some as the most exuberant kit in the bunch, Australia’s home jerseys use white, yellow, and green brush strokes to represent their creative, youthful team. Incorporating design elements from Melbourne’s famous Hosier Lane, Nike created a ’90s-style look that combines the colors of the Australian countryside with the graffiti art culture seen in the country’s urban areas.

Netherlands Home Kit

Inner Pride – Crown symbol to represent the country’s monarchy.

For the newly designed Dutch kits, Nike created a digital tulip, a geometric design that represents the country’s iconic flower. These kits also mark the first time the Netherlands will forgo the traditional lion crest for a lioness, representing the pride and ferocity of the women’s team.

Norway Home Kit

Inner Pride – Snowflake and Flower symbols

This year, Norway’s home kits combine the team’s trademark red and blue into a “winter sweater” print inspired by the country’s decorated ski jumpers. The design combines snowflakes and flowers to honor the beauty and variety of Norway’s weather.

China Away Kit

Inner Pride – Phoenix logo

To remind the Chinese team of the powerhouse spirt of the 1990s, these light grey kits feature an intricate phoenix pattern. The design was created to represent femininity and virtue, paying tribute to the “Steel Roses” nickname given to the team.

A Look Back: Nike Air Zoom GP

A Look Back: Nike Air Zoom GP

Back in the ‘90s, Gary Payton, aka “GP,” aka “The Glove,” talked the most trash, played the best lockdown defense, and rocked some of the craziest kicks on the basketball court. One of his most popular was the Air Zoom GP, which originally released in 1999. On June 16th the famous model returns in its OG white/black colorway. Here’s a look back at the history behind Gary Payton’s legendary shoe.

In 1990, Payton was drafted second overall by the Seattle SuperSonics. By 1999, the Sonics point guard had made a name for himself in the League. He was part of the ’96 squad that made it to the NBA Finals only to battle one of the greatest teams ever assembled: the Chicago Bulls. GP and the Sonics lost that series, but Payton showed how talented he was by playing Jordan tough the whole series.

In 1998, Payton wore a model called the Air Zoom Flight, which wasn’t officially a GP shoe, but definitely was considered one. The Air Zoom Flight was a hit with its glove-like fit, and the model paved the way for Payton’s first official signature model, the Air Zoom GP.

Designed by Eric Avar, the Air Zoom GP was inspired by track spikes, cycling shoes, and ski boots. The Air Zoom GP released early in 1999 and was locked and loaded with new technology. The most appealing part of the shoe was the asymmetrical lace cover with a lateral ratchet lockdown system and internal dynamic fit sleeve. The GP also had forefoot and heel Zoom Air-Sole units, and an enclosed plastic “monkey paw” on the medial ankle portion of the sneaker for super-secure fit and support. The Air Zoom GP released in white, black, and navy colorways.

The Air Zoom GP was part of Nike’s Alpha Project line. There were five small dots on the heel, as well as the five large dots along the upper. These five dots were the logo for Nike’s Alpha Project, which was basically an opportunity to launch wild new designs and technologies with the athlete in mind. The campaign lasted several years, and spanned all sport categories – from running, to basketball, to tennis, to training.

There were also Alpha Project ads and commercials for the Air Zoom GP – one featuring Payton wandering into Patell’s Oddities shop, and one with GP fighting Evander Holyfield in the boxing ring.

Going into 2000, Nike released a takedown version called the Air Believe Flight – it was a very similar sneaker, but switched out the ratchet lockdown system for a regular strap. It also only had Zoom Air in the forefoot. In addition, Nike released the Air Afterburner Flight, which was inspired by the GP with its large dots on side, albeit six instead of five.

The Air Zoom GP has never retroed, until now. Much to the delight of OG sneakerheads everywhere, the Air Zoom GP returns June 16th for its 20th anniversary in the original white/black/green colorway. It’s a great opportunity to own the sneaker that helped make GP the legend he is today. Now we just need the NBA to bring back the Sonics.