Super Bowl XLIII Ads Reviewed

 

Every year, I watch the Super Bowl, as much for the commercials, as for the game.  And, every year a couple of my friends and I get together after the game, and discuss our opinions of the commercials that were shown that year.  This year, I decided to bring these opinions to my blog, and so I have written a list of my favorite and least favorite commercials for the year.

I will try to stay away from commercials that are not new (though I am a big DVR watcher, and it is very possible that I would have simply missed a commercial up to this point), and I will ignore commercials that do not try to be ‘Super Bowl quality’ commercials.  I also will ignore the car commercials for the most part.  To make either list (good or bad), I have to feel like the people who made the commercial were trying, and not just buying time to run the same old commercials for the same old campaign that they always do.

Let’s face it, when it comes to Super Bowl commercials, it’s all about the humor.  Most of the great Super Bowl commercials over the years have had some comedy element to them.  Sometimes there may be one that has good CG that makes it stand out, but CG is so good today that we have become used to it to the point that we just expect it.

Top 5:

5. The Carlos Boozer commercial for Overstock.com where he shows the difference between ‘bling’ and an Olympic gold medal was poignant.

4. The Pepsi Max ‘I’m Good!’ commercial was funny and had a nice use of visual humor; something that is easily abused in a commercial.

3. The Conan O’Brien Bud Light commercial where he does a freaky commercial that is only supposed to be seen in Finland was hilarious.

2. The Pepsi MacGruber/Pepsuber commercial with Will Forte was brilliant.  I loved it.

1. The Bridgestone commercial with Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head was brilliant. 

Bottom 5:

5. The obtuse Cheetos commercial with Chester, the pigeons, and the irritating lady on the cell phone was too weird, and the timing was off.

4. The 3D Sobe commercial with the dancing football players was terrible.  They must have spent all of their money on the effect.

3. All three (1, 2, 3) of the boorish, tiresome Budweiser Clydesdale commercials

2. Both, but especially the second of the two Go Daddy commercials with Danika Patrick

1. The horrible Teleflora commercial where the flowers in the box insult the lady reminded me of a horrid Jared Jewelry commercial.  It will be my worst of the Super Bowl simply because of the awful message.  They should be ashamed.

See all the Super Bowl ads here.

Before the Game:

Hit- When I saw the E-Trade commercial with the little kid, I thought, “Not these tired ads again.”  However, by the end of it, I thought it was pretty funny.  I’m sure all of the golfers will be calling each other “Shankapotumus” for the next few months.

Hit- The Samsung commercial where the guy loved the Cowboys so much that he became an usher so that he could sneak out of church an listen to the game was funny also.

Miss- The commercial with Lebron James daydreaming that he was a Cleveland Brown was a good idea but sort of fizzled.

Hit- The McDonalds Charities commercial where the girl gave the pennies out her loafers was nice.

First Quarter:

Hit- The Bud Light commercial where the guy was thrown out the window for suggesting that they could save money by not buying Bud Light for every meeting was sort of funny.

Hit- The Audi commercial that showed car chases moving through the decades was clever.

Hit- The Bob Dylan/Hip Hop commercial for Pepsi was clever and nostalgic.

Miss- The Doritos ‘Snow Globe’ commercial tried to be funny, but it was just bad.

Hit- The Conan O’Brien Bud Light commercial where he does a freaky commercial that is only supposed to be seen in Finland was hilarious.

Hit- The Bridgestone commercial with Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head was brilliant.  It was easily my favorite commercial of the first quarter.

Miss- The Castrol Edge commercial featuring a guy who had a group of monkeys become devoted to him after he used the product was weird and unfunny.

Second Quarter:

Miss- The Doritos commercial which had a guy who suddenly had powers that were associated with crunching a Doritos’ chip was better than the first one, but still nothing to write home about.

Miss- The Go Daddy commercial with a showering Danika Patrick was the same old tired thing from them.  They need a new idea.  Guys, Danika was already in Sports Illustrated.  I saw the pics.  They were OK.

Hit- The Pepsi Max ‘I’m Good!’ commercial was funny and had a nice use of visual humor; something that is easily abused in a commercial.

Miss- The Pedigree ‘Maybe you should get a dog was a good try, but a miss.

Miss- It’s time to put the Clydesdales out to pasture.  I just don’t care about them, or the fact that they can fetch.  Not funny.

Miss- Budweiser has a history of staying with a commercial idea until everyone hates it (see the fogs, lizards and the Bud Bowl– I just threw up in my mouth).  The commercial where the Clydesdale follows the white horse that he is in love with was worse than the first one.  It’s time to send this commercial to the glue factory.

Miss- The Gatorade “G” commercial gets an ‘A’ for star power and an ‘F’ for delivery and presentation.  I’ll bet it cost them a mint.

Hit- The cars.com where a guy named David Abernathy is a child prodigy but needs help buying a car was clever.

Hit- The E-Trade commercial featuring the two babies, one of which was singing, “Take These Broken Wings” was a good one.  I did not like these commercials in years past, but they seem to have stepped it up this year.

Miss- The Bud Light Drinkability commercial where the guy used the telestrator was not funny at all.

Miss- I don’t know how you can incorporate Death into a commercial and end up with an unfunny product, but H&R Block was able to do so.

Miss- The horrible Teleflora commercial where the flowers in the box insult the lady reminded me of a horrid Jared Jewelry commercial.  It will be my worst of the Super Bowl simply because of the awful message.  They should be ashamed.

Miss- The obtuse Cheetos commercial with Chester, the pigeons, and the irritating lady on the cell phone was too weird, and the timing was off.

Halftime:

Incomplete- The 3D Monsters vs. Aliens commercial looked good, but I did not have the 3d glasses, so it looked a little fuzzy.  Pixar is always great, though.

Miss- The 3D Sobe commercial with the dancing football players was terrible.  They must have spent all of their money on the effect.

Honorable mention- The Heroes commercial with John Elway was kind of funny.  I’m sure it would have been better if I had watched the show.

Miss- I just do not care about the Toyota Tundra or the commercials that they choose to run for it.

Miss- The Priceline commercial with Shatner as Cyrano De Bergerac was not bad, but the premise is too tired for the Super Bowl.

Hit- The Carlos Boozer commercial for Overstock.com where he shows the difference between ‘bling’ and an Olympic gold medal was poignant.

Hit- The ‘Milosh wants to play for…’ commercial for American Airlines made me smile.

Third Quarter:

Miss- I don’t even know what Coke was trying to do with this commercial, but obviously they spent a lot of money again this year animating a failure.

Miss- The Bridgestone commercial where the tires are stolen off the moon rover was not funny.

Hit- The mob-styled commercial for Denny’s where the guy is contemplating the fate of a rat while the waitress finishes putting a smiley face on his pancakes was surprisingly funny.

Miss- Unfortunately, Monster.com proved that comic timing can be so off, that even a guy sitting under the ass of a moose can fail to be funny.

Miss- Apparently, the only cure for the Budweiser Clydesdale commercials is the cure that is used for most horse ailments, a twelve gauge.  The Scottish one was just as tiring as the rest.

Hit- I found the 60 second Career Builder commercial to be funny, but I expected more since they had this much time to work with.

Hit- I still do not understand why Coke keeps making the Pixar-style commercials that seem to have little purpose.  That all being said, I liked the one with the insects in the third quarter of the game.

Miss- I don’t care that Kellogg’s is rebuilding fields.

Hit- The Usama Young NFL commercial was enjoyable.

Hit- I hate the Jack commercials for Jack in the Box, so I got giddy when I saw Jack’s cracked head on the pavement in front of a bus.  I thought the lines from the lacky talking on the phone were funny too.  If this is Jack in the Box’s way of getting rid of Jack, this may end up as my favorite commercial ever.  However, if this is just the start of a ‘save Jack’ campaign, I may not live through it.  I will reserve judgment.

Fourth Quarter

Hit- I generally hate the Coke Zero commercials, but this modern take on the old Mean Joe Green commercial with Polamalu was funny, except for the Coke Zero guys which, as usual, were a whip.

Hit- The Cash for Gold commercial, though funny, was a little uncomfortable with the references to all of the bankrupt celebrities.  It seemed like they were taking advantage a little.

Miss- I care even less about GE and their ‘eco-savings’ than I did about Kellogg’s building fields.

Hit- The Hulu commercial with Alec Baldwin was a little weird, but they get an ‘A’ for getting their message out and explaining their product.

Miss- GE, I just don’t care about your wind energy.

Hit- The Pepsi MacGruber/Pepsuber commercial with Will Forte was brilliant.  I loved it.

Miss- Someone needs to tell the Bud Light Lime people that the whole ‘walking around and having an effect on the world around me because of the product I am wearing or have with me’ has been done many times before, and recently, and better.

Miss- I thought the first Danika Go Daddy commercial was bad, but this one was terrible.

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New Nicknames for some of the Cowboys

Yesterday, I watched as once again, it was proved that it is more important to have heart than talent.  It was the poorest showing by a Cowboy team in the biggest game that I can remember.  The worst part is that this team is indeed very talented, and this year, the NFL is as wide open as I ever remember it.

As I sat watching the game (if you want to call it that), I cam up with some nicknames that I thought might be appropriate for several of the players that graced the Cowboy’s roster this year.  Enjoy:

Tony Romo– “Intentional Grounding Gump“-  There is so much to consider with this guy.  He can not seem to hit the broad side of a barn, and when ever teams keep him in the pocket, he has no idea what he should do.  The whole ‘golly-gee’ bit was cute at first, but he needs to realize that he is now a $60,000,000 quarterback on the biggest team in sports.  I really wonder about how bright he really is.  I keep expecting him to tell Adrea Kramer that ‘life is like a box of chocolates.’

T.O.- “Big Mouth”–  Shut up and catch the ball every now and then.

Roy Williams- “Big Nothing”- And, that’s exactly what the Cowboys got for their trade with the Lions.

Flozell Adams- “Big Early”- No one commits as many illegal motion penalties as the big guy.

Jason Witten- “Little Early”- No one, that is, except for our starting tight end.

Andre Gurode- “Surprise!”- He has the uncanny ability to surprise defenses as well as his own quarterback with his ill-timed snaps.  And, if Romo looks ready, he’ll just snap it right over his head.

Nick Folk- “90 Degrees”- Possesses the strange quality of being able to kick the ball at a right angle.  This is not so bad for Cowboy fans though, because in this case the opposing team only gets to start on the 40 yard line.

Sam Paulescu- “Minus 20”-  This name refers to the 20 yards that the Cowboys give up in field position because this guy is punting instead of Matt McBriar.

Pacman Jones- “Latitude”- He only runs East/West.

Terrence Newman- “Tunnel Vision”-  This refers to Newman’s innate ability to stick to a receiver like glue. watching his eyes intently as the ball sails over his own should and into the receiver’s arms.

Miles Austin- “What The Hell Were You Thinking On That Pitch!”

Feel free to leave any that you might think of.

Does the Constitution Say Anything About Grooming Issues?

There are several reasons that it would be good to go back to the 1950s.  One of these involves grooming issues.  Back then, a man wore his hair short, the only way his barber knew how to cut it.  Of course, there was the occasional ‘greaser,’ but even those guys had nice hair by today’s standards.

It was the 60s and hippies that destroyed hair in America.  The 70s were just an extension of the 60s and in the 80s hairstyles were just a mistake.  It took us until the end of the 1980’s and the introduction of the show “Friends” to finally get a handle on hairstyles once again.

In the last few years, for the most part hairstyles have improved, except in one area, the dreadlock.  Dreadlocks are way out of hand.  This phenomenon seems to have come out of the sports world, and proliferated itself on the heels of the institution of the ‘Emmitt Smith Rule’ in which players were no longer allowed to remove their helmets in the field of play.

Players like Troy Polamalu have started to wear dreadlocks so long that they come out of their helmets and go significantly down their backs.  The problem is that the league did not deal with this issue early on.  There are several reasons for the league to outlaw this nonsense:

  1. It’s unsightly.  It just looks bad.
  2. It’s not part of the uniform.  In a league where you can be fined for not wearing your socks in the correct manner during a game, It seems to be a little hypocritical to allow a player to wear his hair so long that neither the player’s number nor his name can be seen clearly.
  3. It is either dangerous or unfair.  I believe that it is dangerous to tackle these players by the hair (though it could serve as an effective deterrent).  It could easily break a neck, but on the other hand, it is unfair to protect these players against being tackled by their hair as it covers their whole back in some cases.  There was actually a flag thrown for unsportsmanlike conduct in a Cowboys/Steelers game when Polamalu was tackled in this manner after an interception.

Of course, this is all bogus, and the league will have to deal with it eventually.  Now, the player’s union has become involved in support of the players who want ridiculously long hair, and the league has allowed the argument to be changed into a racial issue.  This will make it much harder to deal with.

A similar subject occurred this week when a court allowed a Rastafarian to sue his employer, Jiffy Lube over a new policy that required employees to be clean-shaven.  He is suing on religious grounds.  I do not see how this lawsuit (which was dismissed once already) can be allowed to go forward.  There is no inherent right to dress the way you want to in the workplace.  Many jobs require their employees to wear uniforms, and most county health departments will not allow employees at restaurants to have facial hair.  What happens when a Muslim woman claims that she must wear a head-covering in her job at a bank, for instance?  Or, what if some kooky religion that bans clothing comes along?  Will we then be forced to employee a naked nurse (I actually support this in some cases)?  The implications are huge, and as we all know, in the civil courts in America precedent is everything.  Once Pandora gets out of this box, we are all in trouble.

In closing, Get A Haircut!

NFL Rightly Suspends Players for Doping

I became incensed yesterday when, while listening to the radio, I heard “The Goose,” a local Dallas newspaper reporter known for his own self-assuredness on a radio show with local talk show host Norm Hitzges.  In this weekly segment, Norm had asked about the looming suspensions for the NFL players who had recently tested positive for steroids.  The Goose in his somewhat cocky life persona informed Norm that the six players (running back Deuce McAllister and defensive linemen Charles Grant and Will Smith of New Orleans; defensive linemen Kevin and Pat Williams of Minnesota; and long snapper Bryan Pittman of Houston) would not be suspended until the beginning of next season.

My immediate reaction to this was to day, “What the hell?”  This made absolutely no sense whatsoever to me. 

He continued his argument by saying that to suspend these players at this time (going into the playoff run) would be unfair to other players on teams like Minnesota that would arguably be devastated by any such move.  I immediately thought, “But, they cheated in this season, and their teams benefitted from it.”  Any suspensions should rightfully be handed down in the season in which the cheating (and that is exactly what it is) occurred.  As far as the team goes, if they did not create an atmosphere in their own locker room in which this kind of thing would not be considered, then it is on the team also.

Of course, there is no way to really fix the problem.  All of the teams that had to play early in the season against a strong Minnesota run defense anchored by a couple of cheaters had a tougher time than some teams possibly in their own divisions (or possibly in a race for the playoffs) will have from this point on, and none of that is taken into account when it comes to tie-breakers.

So, when I woke up this morning and discovered that The Goose was once again talking out of his ass, and the commissioner had rightly suspended all of these players for the rest of the season, I felt better.  Good for Goodell.

Ding, Dong: Bryant Gumbel is Finally Off of the NFL Network

Usually, I find myself griping about one thing or another on my blog.  It is often sadly true that bad news outnumbers or outweighs good news.  Today, however, I read a great story.  In fact, I cannot think of a thing that would make me much happier than the news I read today.  World peace would be nice, but I don’t know that I would put it above this news.  Cheap gas might slightly edge it out, but maybe not.

So what is this most momentous news?  Bryant Gumbel has been replaced on the NFL network football broadcasts this year.  I get heady just thinking about it.  There has never been a poorer broadcaster in the history of broadcasting, and I include the ‘boom goes the dynamite guy’ in this.  At least Brian Collins of Ball State knew that he was sucking.  Bryant Gumbel, on the other hand, brought the added irritant of being an arrogant ass to go with his ignorant and distracted commentating.

I had high hopes for a very professional channel that would provide the average NFL fan with tons of worthwhile information when this network was started, but Gumbel, alone, kept anyone from taking the venture too seriously.  By dropping this ‘boat anchor’, they have a good chance to rehabilitate their image.  I do not know a whole lot about his replacement, but his radio background should help.

I, personally, would like to see this network recreate my favorite NFL show, Inside the NFL with real hosts, not the spares that they populate much of the productions on this network with (excepting Collinsworth).  If they did, I would watch it every week.

Reaction to ESPN’s Top 10 Running Backs List

Due to hectic events, I have been a little remiss in writing lately.  I hope to make up for some of that with this hot sports opinion.

 

ESPN has published a list of the top running backs of all time, and it is a big steaming pile of horse s—.  You know it must be the slowest sports time of the year when they have nothing better to dredge up than the second most tired argument in sports (the first being the Pete Rose Hall of Fame argument)- the ‘who was better Emmitt or Barry’ argument.  I am going to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that the purpose of this article is simply to create interest through ‘shock value.’

 

Here is a short version of the list:

1. JIM BROWN
Career: Upon retiring before ’66 season, the Browns’ RB was all-time leader in rushing yards (12,312), all-purpose yards (15,549) and touchdowns (126).

2. BARRY SANDERS
Career: Sudden retirement in ’99 came with the Lions’ RB trailing only Walter Payton on the all-time rushing list. Ran for more than 1,500 yards in a season five times.

3. WALTER PAYTON
Career: Played on mediocre Bears teams until late in career but retired as leading rusher (16,726) in history.

4. EMMITT SMITH
Career: Smith, who played 13 seasons for Dallas and two for Arizona, took over as all-time rushing leader in ’02. His 164 rushing touchdowns are the most in history.

5. GALE SAYERS
Career: Knee problems forced him to retire in ’71 after seven seasons with the Bears. At 33, he was the youngest person selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

6. LADAINIAN TOMLINSON
Career: The Chargers’ RB has at least 1,200 rushing yards and 50 receptions in each of his first seven seasons.

7. MARSHALL FAULK
Career: Began career with Indianapolis in ’94 but was traded to St. Louis in ’99 and became cornerstone of “Greatest Show on Turf.” First running back in history to lead his team in receptions in five different seasons.

8. O.J. SIMPSON
Career: The Bills’ great became the first player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season when he gained 2,003 in ’73.

9. LENNY MOORE
Credentials: One of Johnny Unitas’ key weapons for the Colts, he scored a touchdown in 18 straight regular-season appearances between ’63 and ’65.

10. ERIC DICKERSON
Credentials: Reached 10,000 rushing yards in 91 games (the fastest pace in history) and rushed for 2,105 yards in ’84. Played for Rams, Colts, Falcons and Raiders.

 

To distance themselves from the ridiculousness of this list, they have been upfront in giving credit/assessing blame to these authors of the list Don Shula, Marv Levy, Dan Reeves, Robert Smith, Jerry Richardson, Floyd Reese, Jack Bushofsky and Emmitt Thomas.

 

I do not have a problem with Jim Brown being at the top of the list.  What he did during the time he was in the league, and when he did it compared with the other running backs of his era, makes his stand out above the rest on the list.

 

I start having problems at number two on the list.  Emmitt Smith is at number four.  I will deal with the tiring Barry/Emmitt argument first.  I do not want to hear about Barry’s self-truncated career any more.  He was a great back, but his career does not compare with Emmitt’s because he threw a fit and quit.  We do not know if he would have had a better career that Emmitt, because,… he quit.  There is no data, and it is not fair to project ‘could have been’ data to an argument such as this.  Barry should be on the list, but I put him at number five.  All of you Barry lovers need to let it go and realize that his early retirement actually hurt his legacy.

 

The authors of this article defend the list by saying that Walter Payton was great while playing most of his career on bad teams.  On the contrary, they spend a whole section of the article backhandedly complimenting Emmitt and explaining his position at number four as a result of the fact that he played with other stars, such as Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin, together with a great offensive line who assisted in making Emmitt good.

 

How about this argument?  It is easier for a great running back to rack up yards on a bad team than a good team.  A bad team will place a larger part of the load on a great running back’s shoulders in order to keep from exposing the other bad parts of the offense.  On the other hand, a player like Emmitt could lose carries to other great players in his offense.  It seems worse than wrong to penalize a player for being on a great team.  The Cowboys played a #1 schedule against some of the best teams (including being in the NFC East) in the league for much of Emmitts career.  Payton and Sanders played much easier schedules in a much weaker division.  Check out Sanders’ performance in games that counted.  He could turn in a nice 25 yard performance with the season on the line.  Emmitt never did this.

 

Emmitt closed the deal also.  He not only set the all-time rushing record and the all-time rushing touchdowns record, he carried the Cowboys to three Superbowl victories in four years.  The article curiously gives some numbers, but does not just lay them out for consumption.  This is, of course, because the numbers do not back up the opinions espoused by the authors.  They oddly say, “Sudden retirement in ’99 came with the Lions’ RB trailing only Walter Payton on the all-time rushing list. Ran for more than 1,500 yards in a season five times”, regarding Barry Sanders.  When it comes time for the quick blurb about Emmitt it says, “Smith, who played 13 seasons for Dallas and two for Arizona, took over as all-time rushing leader in ’02. His 164 rushing touchdowns are the most in history.”  Dallas’ playoff record and Superbowl victories are not mentioned.  Of course, looking pretty as you run down the field is much more important than actually putting skins on the wall.

 

While I believe there is a legitimate debate near the top of the list, it begins to fall apart after Emmitt.  I am truly tired of seeing Gale Sayers at the top of these lists.  He is the biggest example of ‘good old days syndrome’ in sports.  In truth, if he had played in the last few years, we would not have even made the Hall of Fame.  His numbers compare with someone like Terrell Davis, who also had a very good short career, but does not deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.  Unfortunately, the argument that he is in the Hall of Fame is used to bolster many backs such as Davis who do not deserve to be there.

 

Seeing the rest of this list only underscores how difficult it is to have a great and sustained career at running back in the NFL.  Of course, Dickerson belongs on the list and much higher than #10.  He belongs in the top five in my book easily.  Compared with some of the others on the list, and listening to names that arises when the best backs of all time are listed, he may be the most underrated of the greatest running backs in the history of the game.

 

Even though he as a bastard and a killer, O.J. belongs on the list, and I put him at #6.  He was a undeniably the best back of his era.  Faulk probably deserve to be on the list, but he was as much a receiver as a rusher.  He changed the way the position was played, and he has his skins in the wall.  I put him at #7.

 

I’ really like Ladainian Tomlinson, and agree that if he continues to put up number even close to those he has so far, he may end up as the greatest back in the history of the game.  The point is, he has not done it yet, and as a result, I have to give him an incomplete, and cannot include him on the list.  He has already had one ‘career ending’ injury, and was hurt at the end of the last two seasons.  It is too early to give him a place on the list.  When I was in college, as a history major, we talked about the concept of history.  We were told that it is best not to write history until about twenty years after the fact.  This allows time for personal politics and such to wash away, and just leave the facts.  The same goes for this list.  We should at least allow the player’s career to end before evaluating it.

 

Lenny Moore?  Oh yeah, his name just rolls of the tongue in any conversation involving great running backs.  I find it interesting that they say his longevity, and the good job he did on a great team with other great players on the team, propelled him onto the list while these same facts seemed to hold Smith from reaching the top of the list.

 

Here is my list:

1. Jim Brown

2. Emmitt Smith

3. Walter Payton

4. Eric Dickerson

5. Barry Sanders

6. Marshall Faulk

7. OJ Simpson

8. Franco Harris

9. Earl Campbell (There is a big drop off to the last two places, and I might be talked into some else at these two slots).

 

Here are a couple of other lists for comparison, though the second is very suspect:

List 1

List 2