J.J. Watt, three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, was in a pickle. Though he spends an incredible amount of time practicing, he couldn’t find a training shoe that did everything he needed. So he teamed up with Reebok to make one of his own.
On Thursday, Reebok held an event in New York to unveil the JJ I, a training shoe developed in partnership with Watt. Reebok held a circuit workout for the media to demonstrate the shoe in motion.
Watt explained that he needed something very specific from a training shoe; something that was not yet in the market. “When I train, I go from a platform, to turf, to rubber floor, to wood floors. I need something that can be explosive, but also sturdy, that can be light and fast but also strong enough to handle me on the platform. So I needed something that could really handle me, and there just wasn’t a shoe that did that,” he said.
The JJ I has a raised topline midsole for increased support, along with FlexCage technology in the mid-foot, a substructure cage that provides a stable feeling without sacrificing agility. The shoe also introduces Reebok Liquid Foam technology for the first time, which allows for rapid reaction to impact.
Judson VanCor, director of training footwear, said that Watt took more of a project manager role than just putting his face on the product. VanCor said, “As opposed to just building something and endorsing it, from the start, [Watt] says, I’m not going to put my name on it if I’m not involved.”
Watt highlighted that it was a long, involved process, and he was not happy with accepting simple solutions. He said of his relationship with VanCor, “There were probably times that we fought like a married couple.”
The shoe will retail for $99.99 and will be available online and in Academy stores and other retailers starting July 15 .