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The Five Most Influential Super Bowl Footwear Moments of All Time

Drew Hammell

Most people love the Super Bowl because of the commercials, the parties, the halftime show, and of course the game itself (when are we going to make the Monday after the Super Bowl a national holiday, by the way?).

Although the majority of the games over the years have been played on grass, the amount of memorable sneaker moments has been a bit more limited compared to, say, the NBA Finals. That doesn’t mean there haven’t been any times when we stared a little bit closer at the TV to check out the kicks, though.

Here are five of the most influential Super Bowl footwear moments of all time. 

Ronnie Lott – Air Jordan 4 – Super Bowl XXIV (1989)

Ronnie Lott in the Air Jordan 4 “Bred” (Image via USA TODAY Sports)

Ronnie Lott is a legend. In his ten years with the 49ers, the superstar safety helped lead them to eight division titles and four Super Bowls. In an era where most games were played on AstroTurf, and players wore pretty boring turf shoes, Lott showed up at the Super Bowl rocking one of the most popular basketball sneakers of all time — the Air Jordan 4 “Bred.”

Ronnie Lott in the Air Jordan 4 “Bred” (Image via USA TODAY Sports)

It made sense to wear the Jordan 4 since turf was basically carpet on top of concrete back then. Performance-wise, they were the best sneaker available in any category. Plus, they matched the Niners’ uniforms.

Original Air Jordan 4 “Bred” from 1989 (Image via HighSnobiety)

Throughout the ’90s, football players would continue to dabble with basketball sneakers on turf, and they can thank Lott as one of the early adopters for this trend.

Deion Sanders – Nike Diamond Turf 2 & Nike DT Max – Super Bowl XXIX & XXX (1995, 1996)

Deion Sanders in the Nike DT Max (Image by Albert Dickson/Sporting News via Getty Images)

If you grew up in the ’90s, you knew how popular Prime Time was. He was up there with MJ. He played both professional baseball and football. He played in the World Series and the Super Bowl. Not only that, he played in the ’95 Super Bowl with the Niners and won.

Deion Sanders in the Nike Diamond Turf 2 Red/Gold (Image by Focus on Sport/via Getty Images)

Then the following year, he played with Dallas and won again. And on top of all that, he was wearing the most fire footwear arguably ever seen on the gridiron.

Nike Diamond Turf 2 Red/Gold (Image via SepWalk)

Prime Time rocked the Nike Air Diamond Turf 2 cleat versus the Chargers in ’95, then broke out the DT Max cleat versus the Steelers in ’96. Both models were super popular when released, and sneakerheads would love to see them drop again.

Deion Sander in the Nike DT Max (Image by Focus on Sport/via Getty Images)

Seeing both drop as a pack would be dope but will likely never happen as Deion and Nike aren’t on the best of terms any longer.

Pete Carroll – Nike Air Monarch PE – Super Bowl XLVIII (2014)

Pete Carroll in the Nike Air Monarch PE (Image via USA TODAY Sports)

Believe it or not, this was a crucial moment in sneaker history. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, known for his love for the Nike Air Monarch, wore a Seattle-themed white/navy/green colorway that was generally overlooked by most sneakerheads.

However, the Air Monarch and “dad fashion” quickly emerged as a trend, thanks in part to Instagram accounts like Team Monarch. Complete with a full-length Air-Sole unit and a budget-friendly price tag, the Air Monarch has become one of Nike’s top-selling sneakers over the past decade.

Even though Carroll’s PE version never released, the Monarch’s success has led to additional colorways and even a wild fashion-forward version by designer Martine Rose.

Justin Timberlake – Air Jordan 3 “JTH” – Super Bowl LII (2018)

Partnering with superstar Justin Timberlake, Jordan Brand and designer Tinker Hatfield incorporated their new take on the Air Jordan 3 during the 2018 halftime show. This was Timberlake’s second time performing at the Super Bowl. At the end of the performance, SNKRS did a surprise drop of the shoe, which led to total pandemonium on social media.

Justin Timberlake in the Air Jordan 3 “JTH” (Image via Quartz)

This version of the Air Jordan 3 featured a 3M Swoosh on the side of the upper, which was inspired by designer Tinker Hatfield’s original sketches.

Air Jordan 3 “JTH” (Image via Nike)

Apparently, there were only 520 pairs made available during the Super Bowl, and of course, resale for the sneakers skyrocketed into the thousands of dollars immediately.

J Balvin x Air Jordan 1 – Super Bowl LIV (2020)

After the success of the Timberlake Air Jordan halftime moment in 2018, we could all see where this was headed; if Nike had an opportunity to showcase a new sneaker, they were going to do it during the halftime show, orchestrated by Jordan Brand’s head of Entertainment Marketing, Reggie Saunders.

Back in 2019, J Balvin had a chance to meet Michael Jordan during Paris Fashion Week. They hit it off and ended up hanging out sharing stories late into the Parisian night. At the end of the night, Jordan told the Brand, “We’re giving J Balvin a shoe.”

J Balvin x Air Jordan 1 (Image via Nike)

Though J Balvin’s performance didn’t come with a surprise halftime drop on SNKRS as Timberlake’s did, everyone was watching what was on his feet, and the hype on his collab with Jordan Brand went through the roof. J Balvin performed with Jennifer Lopez and Shakira. We all knew the ladies would steal the show, but J Balvin’s Air Jordan 1’s were put on every sneakerhead’s radar.

J Balvin x Air Jordan 1 (Image via Nike)

Due to COVID-19 delays, J Balvin’s signature bright, vibrant tie-dye version of the Air Jordan 1 didn’t end up releasing until December 2020. It was a unique take on the typical Air Jordan 1, with a fresh, reimagined silhouette that is one of the loudest ever created.

Drew Hammell is a SoleSavy member and the creator of the Nike-dedicated archival page @NikeStories. You can find more of Hammell’s work here


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