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Return to the Turf

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True fans of the game played on the grass gridiron remember the AstroTurf era. Back in the 90s, more than half of the NFL’s teams had rolled out “the green carpet”, and for superstar athletes like Brett Favre and Emmitt Smith, cleats didn’t cut it. While a large amount of players elected to lace up basketball sneakers, Favre and Smith were blessed with some signature kicks that were specially optimized for tackling the turf.

With the AstroTurf surface rendering players prone to injury, Brett Favre needed a shoe that could deliver on the hazardous playing field. That shoe was the Nike Zoom Turf Jet ’97. Sporting a rugged outsole and gatorskin-like upper, the Zoom Turf Jet was engineered to not only withstand the rigors of the artificial surface, but also keep players like Favre consistently performing at a high level. With 297 consecutive starts and numerous NFL records under his belt, we wouldn’t say that’s an overstatement.

While Favre had the privilege of playing most of his games on real grass at Lambeau Field, Emmitt Smith had AstroTurf on his home field for all of the 12 years he played at Texas Stadium. Going down in history with the most rushing yards of all-time, it’s safe to say that his signature sneaker, the Reebok ES22, was the likely culprit for keeping him making hard cuts and juking defenders out of their lesser-quality shoes. Bulky, yet compact in appearance, the ES22 aesthetically mirrored Emmitt Smith himself being a durable and reliable extension of the athlete.

The football playing field might be evolving, rendering turf-ready kicks obsolete on the gridiron, but with athletic shoes making the transition to the urban fashion realm, it was only right to bring these kicks back. Make sure you check them both out to stay on top of your shoe game, because if history is any indication of the future, you won’t see these again for a while.