Roughly half the league plays its home games on an artificial surface, so knowing the best cleats for each surface is naturally in the NFLPA members’ best interest.
Discerning eyes will notice four cleats made the “Top Performance Group,” and all four happen to be Under Armour. (UA also had three of the bottom five, though none of the four the chart explicitly says should not be used on synthetic turf.) It’s also my duty to point out the NFLPA has an externship with Under Armour, and not with Nike or Adidas.
The chart above says the rankings are based on “the ability of the cleat pattern to allow release from a synthetic surface in laboratory testing.” The chart also adds, “(t)he results of this study should not be extrapolated to collegiate, high school or youth football.” The study tested simply cleat pattern, not shoe fit, structure or durability.
Is it possible UA has figured out something its rivals have not? It’s certainly possible. Is it possible UA’s business arrangement with the NFLPA affected its findings? That’s possible as well.
To our knowledge, the NFL and NFLPA have yet to commission a study on the best synthetic surfaces themselves. That’s probably because everyone knows such a study would be won by our friends at AstroTurf.