Recap: 2011 Nike Football Innovation Summit

We were invited to Nike HQ in Portland, OR a few weeks ago for the 2011 Nike Football Innovation Summit. Russ already posted about the SPARQ Vapor Strobe Eyewear, which is pretty amazing! If you want to take your game to the next level, invest in a pair of SPARQs.

But when you think about innovations in football, do you think about the clothes? Nike believes in “listening to the voice of the athelete”, a mantra we kept hearing during our visit. They use the feedback they garner from players to help develop better products.

Who better to tell you what needs to be changed than the people playing the game itself?

The cleat is ever-changing. The Nike Vapor Talon Elite cleat was designed with one goal in mind: Speed. Utilizing the best of Nike’s proven technologies, it provides superior traction with lightweight protection and lockdown, enabling the sure-footedness required for the game’s demand for blistering quickness.

The cleat’s upper support, lateral stability and comfort, combined with a new level of ground grip, ensures every player on the field can dig in and destroy with speed while wearing the Nike Vapor Talon Elite.

The other big development has to do with the Nike Pro Combat system of dress. The elements play a huge part in the game, and the right gear makes all the difference. We got the chance to don some of the Pro Combat gear and see how it worked firsthand. This stuff is awesome!

We ran some drills outside (where it was raining and about 35 degrees). Suited up, we were able to stay warm and dry for the most part. In the hot summer months, the dri-fit material helps keep you cool, wicking away the sweat from your body to keep you dry.

As if that weren’t enough, we then got to visit the Nike Research Facility, where we met a bunch of Nike’s Ph.Ds who showed us just how much R&D goes into everything they make. It was pretty wild, and unlike anything I’ve ever seen! Unfortunately, I didn’t take many photos in here, so you’ll just have to take my word on how cool it was. 🙂

The following day, we took a road trip to the University of Oregon, where we got to meet the coach and tour their impressive facilities. Many of the folks stayed for Saturday’s game against USC, but I hopped on a red-eye back home Friday night.

All in all, it was a very cool experience, and we can’t thank Nike enough for their hospitality!


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