Nike may supply NFL uniforms, but Under Armour is laying claim to the cleats worn by all the quarterbacks in Sunday’s National Football League conference championships.
Barring injuries, that means Under Armour will potentially magnify its exposure at the Super Bowl. The winners of the Patriots-Jaguars and Vikings-Eagles contests advance to the big game on Feb. 4.
This season’s conference championships are unusual in that only one of the quarterbacks — the Patriots’ Tom Brady — is a star. The 40-year-old future Hall of Famer is one of Under Armour’s best-known ambassadors.
The other quarterbacks — Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles, Minnesota’s Case Keenum and Philadelphia’s Nick Foles — are far less well-known, at least to casual fans. Keenum and Foles began the season as backups, and either could write compelling stories with postseason success. Sports brands love those sorts of underdog tales.
While Brady and his wife — model Gisele Bundchen — are signed to endorsement deals with Under Armour, the company declined to comment Friday on whether it has official affiliations with the other quarterbacks. Bortles signed with Nike in 2014. Terms weren’t disclosed, and it is uncertain how long the deal was for.
While Nike provides on-the-field apparel for the league, players are free to wear their own cleats. That’s where some players — notably Under Armour endorser Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers — express their individuality through unusual patterns or themes.
It’s a similar arrangement in Major League Baseball. Majestic Athletic supplies the uniforms (Under Armour is taking over in 2019). But players are free to select their own brands of some gear such as cleats, catcher’s equipment or compression sleeves.