How Shaquem Griffin's new Nike FlyEase cleat aims to be football's most accessible footwear
The one-handed Seahawks linebacker will avoid some of the hassle that comes with traditional cleats
Shaquem Griffin isn't your average athlete, so it stands to reason that he may not have the same equipment needs as your average athlete. The Seattle Seahawks linebacker, who faces some unique challenges as an NFL player with one hand, is now getting some tailored help thanks to Nike in the form of a specially designed cleat.
The 24-year-old linebacker is missing his left hand due to amniotic band syndrome, which prevented full development and caused severe pain in Griffin's fingers on that hand. At age four, Griffin underwent surgery to amputate the hand at the wrist -- but not before he attempted to cut it off himself with a butcher knife first.
Having just one hand hasn't stood in the way of Griffin making a consistent impact on the field. It never stopped him from realizing his NFL dreams. However, it does provide some relatively unique challenges that other players don't have to deal with. Some of those challenges relate to his equipment.
When Griffin took the field for Monday night's wild game between the Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers, he did so in a brand new FlyEase cleat that was designed and constructed to help make his personal gameday experience a little easier. The cleat features technology that makes it easier for Griffin to put his feet in the shoes and remain fully strapped in throughout the course of a game.
One of the primary elements of the design is the elimination of laces, which previously was an annoying obstacle for Griffin. Lace-up cleats were not only tougher to get into but they were also harder to adjust on the fly -- an issue that Griffin says in the past presented itself when opponents would intentionally untie his laces during games.
"I said imagine a shoe with no shoestrings," Griffin told CBS Sports when asked about his primary emphasis with this new cleat. "Even if your strap comes undone, you can strap your shoe right back and get back into the game without missing a beat"
While most football cleats bring a static shell, Griffin's cleat features a more dynamic base that allows for easier entry. The goal was to create a more adaptive shoe that felt almost similar to a sock, while multiple straps sealed the base and created a solidified structure. The cleat carries over certain design elements from prior FlyEase basketball models, as well as the same wraparound strap that debuted with Penny Hardaway's signature Penny IVs more than 20 years ago.
According to a Nike spokesperson, the aesthetic design on the Griffin's cleat was inspired by the Peregrine Falcon -- a tribute to the Seahawks linebacker's speed and skills as a ballhawk. The green base is designed to create a camouflage effect with the field while in motion, and the red spikes are a nod to blood on the talons of the falcon.
While Nike has made several FlyEase models with accessibility in mind, Griffin's cleat is the first to hit the football field, and it will . And while he's thrilled that the product aims to improve his own personal day-to-day experience, he's also excited that the cleat isn't only about Shaquem Griffin.
"You don't want to make something that's only good for your liking," Griffin said. "It was more about what would be good for any athlete. It's for anybody who doesn't want to worry about shoestrings all the time and dealing with that. It's so accessible. You basically put on a sock, three straps and then you go... it's so adaptive and easy for anybody, no matter if you have one limb or two limbs."
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