The Panthers will join players across the NFL in wearing custom cleats that support their cause of choice.
CHARLOTTE – A football players' weekly schedule during the season is a constant cycle. Wednesday is for practice and meetings. So is Thursday. Friday is another day of practice before boarding a plane for – in this case – Seattle. Game on Sunday. Rehab, rest and study Monday and Tuesday.
Rinse and repeat. 16 times a year.
"It's a seven-days-a-week thing for one day a week – for Sunday," said Ryan Bare.
He may not be your favorite Panther, but as owner and operator of Sneaker Replay (SR) Customs, Bare is responsible for personalizing many of the cleats worn by the Panthers participating in Week 13's "My Cause, My Cleats" campaign.
Just like the team, Bare works all week in anticipation of game day, scrubbing, sanding, painting, clear-coating and sealing cleats for multiple Panthers players, including safety Tre Boston, wide receiver Ted Ginn, Jr. and fullback Mike Tolbert.
A devoted Panthers PSL owner and Tar Heels fan, Bare reached out to Boston, a North Carolina alumnus, and offered to customize his cleats last preseason.
"I've contacted people cold like that before, but I wasn't expecting anything," Bare said. "He texted me back and said, 'Yeah, sounds good.' I've literally been doing it since.
Since Boston's first pair, the four-year customizer, who used to focus solely on sneakers, saw his cleat workload significantly increase.
"It's grown tremendously just this football season, doing anywhere from five or six to sometimes 10 pairs a week," he continued. "This foundation week, I'm doing about 15 pairs for different guys on the team."
Many players' cleats, whether customized by Bare or another personalizer, will represent multiple different organizations, including linebacker Thomas Davis' Defending Dreams Foundation, tight end Greg Olsen's HEARTest Yard and most of the defensive line supporting the Charles Johnson Foundation. Being involved in such a league-wide initiative is a special thing, for both players and fans-turned-designers alike.
"I walk into the stadium, and the first thing I do is I look down at the field to see who's wearing what that I did," Bare said. "I was born and raised here, and growing up a fan it's been cool to be a part of it, but now it's turned into going to the game as a fan but at the same time trying to make sure that I'm keeping the guys happy and putting out good work."
This week, it won't just be Bare peering at the Panthers' shoes. Not only will the "My Cleats, My Cause" bring more attention to players' footwear than usual, but Carolina's game at Seattle being featured in primetime on Sunday Night Football will bring even more attention to the players' causes.
"The cleats I do for them don't keep them going, but there's a saying out there as far as all these customs go: look good, feel good, play good," Bare said. "I don't know… but whatever helps. Whatever I can be a part of. I do what they want me to do.
"I'm just that little piece of them going out there with a little more swagger."