ATHENS — Rodrigo Blankenship fully admits to being quirky. The goggles. The jokes he tells. Wearing a helmet during live postgame interviews.
But when it comes to those pink shoes he wears during Georgia football games, Blankenship can actually point to very specific, possibly not quirky reasons.
The shoes are a specific series released by Nike in advance of the 2010 World Cup. (The other football, as it were.) Blankenship loves the series because it has a cover on the laces, creating a smoother surface on his foot, and he finds that the ball comes off better when he kicks in those shoes.
The only problem: Nike hasn’t made many more in that series, with later additions not having that cover. So to hear Blankenship tells it, he spends a lot of time scouring the Internet to find another pair available, and when he does he jumps on it.
“They’re out of style for everyone else, but they’re the perfect ones for me,” Blankenship said. “There aren’t that many pairs in size 11 left, it’s been so long. So I’m just trying to save them as much as I can. I’ve got my pair from last year. I found another pair miraculously over the summer.”
Blankenship currently has two pairs, and does his best to stretch them out as long as possible. He only uses one pair to Thursday practices, the last practice of the week, and the other pair on gamedays. Blankenship said he’s worn the shoes every game this year and last year.
So why pink? Because the shoes in that series were made in wacky colors – navy blue, a different shade of green, etc. – so there’s no standard red or black. The pink – it’s actually a darker pink – are the closest in that model to Georgia’s school colors.
But UGA is a Nike-affiliated school, it was pointed out to Blankenship. Couldn’t he have someone go to Nike and ask for a special order – particularly since they appear to be working? Blankenship leads the SEC in field goal percentage (10-for-11) and is on pace to break the school record for touchbacks this season.
Blankenship, however, appears to like the chase, even if it’s time-absorbing.
“The way I look at it, when you’re given something you don’t value it as much as when you work for it and earn it,” he said. “So it’s always a matter of trying to be frugal and save money. And you just get that rewarding feeling when you know you got them yourself, and you treat them better.”
One other thing: Blankenship wearing goggles may also not be such a quirky thing.
He said he’s tried contacts. They just don’t work for him.
“I’ve tried them three or four times,” he said. “But every time I put them in my eyes just started burning. My eyes can’t handle them.”