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Receiver Jordan Norwood favors Broncos orange and blue (left), while cornerback Aqib Talib prefers going into battle in camo print (right). —Photograph by Paul Miller

Local Artist Airbrushes Broncos’ Cleats

Aurora airbrush artist Jimmy Conca adds some personalized flair to Denver Broncos’ players game-day shoes.

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The NFL’s uniform code allows little room for flair. If a player wears the wrong socks during a game, for instance, the league slaps him with a $6,076 fine. But thanks to Aurora airbrush artist Jimmy Conca, Denver Broncos players have discovered a way to add some flash to their game-day kicks without shelling out thousands. In 2014, Conca offered to paint a pair of cleats for former Denver safety Rahim Moore. (Conca, a portraitist, had sold a few paintings to Moore.) Now, about a dozen Broncos bring him white shoes to airbrush with tailored designs. Remember Jordan Norwood’s 61-yard punt return in Super Bowl 50? He did it wearing Conca’s shiny shoes. Conca, 40, spends three to five hours on each pair of wearable works of art, for which athletes pay $50 or more. (He also customizes shoes for prep athletes and touches them up for free.) The NFL approves as long as the hues match the uniforms and the designs are blessed by the league. Plus, maybe now that they have this outlet for self-expression, players will cut back on the taunting. We’re looking at you, Aqib Talib.

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