The NFL announced Wednesday that the NFL Players Association has formally endorsed the new Puma cleats worn by former NFL running back Adrian Peterson.
The league’s first-ever endorsement of a footwear brand is a big step for Peterson, who has become one of the league’s most recognizable athletes and is currently serving a 15-game suspension for violating the league by-laws.
Puma says the shoes are a tribute to the late former Minnesota Vikings running back, who led the NFL in rushing yards and touchdowns in the 1980s and 1990s and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001.
“We wanted to honor Adrian, the greatest running back of all time,” said Mike Ditka, the NFL’s first coach and the team’s owner.
“We also wanted to remember Adrian’s wife, Mary, who was also a great football player.
We were able to get that done, so we’re really proud to be able to endorse this footwear.”
Puma, which has been a player in the NFL since 1995, has been synonymous with running shoes for decades.
Its signature running shoe, the Puma X, is one of a few brands to feature an American flag on its exterior.
The shoes were introduced by Puma in 2010, a year after Peterson was released by the Minnesota Vikings following his domestic violence arrest.
Pegatron, a subsidiary of Puma, made the shoes in partnership with the Peterson family.
They were made by Nike, and the company said the shoes were made in a factory in China.
The NFLPA’s endorsement comes as the NFL and Puma are working to reach a deal to keep Peterson in the league, but that agreement is expected to take longer than expected.