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The greatest part of each NFL season is getting to watch the two best football franchises that year go head-to-head in the Super Bowl, and this year will be an exciting showdown between old GOAT Tom Brady and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers and young GOAT Patrick Mahomes’ Kansas City Chiefs on February 7, 2021, at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.
Of course, the second-best part of the Big Game are the commercials that air, with companies like McDonald’s and Michelob spending millions of dollars to create and then air these quick pieces of art, with every one of these ads using humor and sports to lure potential customers into buying their products.
Most ads are fast-forward-able, but these top-10 best Super Bowl commercials sports edition are all worth watching, if not for the laughs then for the nostalgia that they inspire.
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For anyone who forgets why New York Jets Super Bowl champion and MVP Joe Namath was also considered a modern sex symbol back in the day, just take a look at this creamy ad that aired during Super Bowl VIII in 1974.
Sports and sex combined usually sell beer, but in this case, it attempts to sell shaving cream by Noxzema, with Broadway Joe getting the ‘close shave’ from a gorgeous model while cracking up at all the bad double entendres.
Okay, this one is only funny if you are not a Buffalo Bills fan, since it can’t be hilarious just yet that their team lost four Super Bowls in a row (1990-1993), but in this ad for Snickers candy bars, Bills head coach Marv Levy tells a room full of players that nobody is leaving until they figure out how to win a Super Bowl.
The punchline hits when the announcer asks, “Not going anywhere for a while?” and the players snag a Snickers break at the thought of how long it will take to figure out how to get a Bills Super Bowl win, something HC Sean McDermott and quarterback Josh Allen are still trying to calculate these days.
This Reebok ad was the precursor for a few of the modern ‘football player hits a regular human’ ads now on TV, with fictional player Terry Tate (played wonderfully by ferocious actor Lester Speight) having been hired by a company to brute-tackle its underperforming workers.
Be great to watch the dead weight at any office get ‘Terry Tate’ and during Super Bowl XXXVII in 2003, Reebok gave every frustrated worker a chance to see this big guy take down multiple weakest links, all of it giving much pleasure to the sleazy C.E.O. of Felcher & Sons.
According to Snickers, you’re not YOU when you’re hungry, and, in the case of this mud bowl pickup football game, one of the players must be hungry because he is “playing like Betty White out there” and the guy literally looks like the beloved elderly actress, who gets sideswiped and tackled by a linebacker.
One bite of the candy bar and Betty White transforms back to the energized guy ready to catch a pass, but the quarterback must have lost the zing in his step because now he has morphed into huggable old Abe Vigoda. Brilliant.
Four years before the release of the movie Space Jam in 1996, there was this Nike commercial aired during Super Bowl XXXVI in 1992 starring basketball legend Michael Jordan and cartoon legend Bugs Bunny both sharing some cartoon-enhanced court time with some B-ball bullies.
Air Jordan and Hair Jordan take on these scrubs and the catchphrase, “Who’d you expect, Elmer Fudd?” is born, a small taste of what will come when the two team up again in Space Jan and take on alien ballers from outer space.
The only thing better than a silly sports montage is one starring late-night talk show host Jimmy Fallon, then throw pro wrestler John Cena into the mix and a few other athletic star cameos, as well, and this beer commercial makes working out seem fun.
Somehow the idea of being athletic and drinking beer are combined seamlessly in this fun ad, one that did well for all involved during Super Bowl LIV in 2020, making us all both fear football robots and long for a ‘full band on a moving cart’ during our own painful workouts.
What’s not to love about this Super Bowl XXIII ad from Budweiser? It’s got beer bottles playing football and Bob Costas doing the play by play, a commercial that would eventually go on to have updates for many of the Big Games that followed for years to come.
Their first-ever Bud Bowl takes a horrible turn for the worse when a human unknowingly grabs two bottles from the game (it’s apparently happening in his fridge), and as the players, fans, and announcers scream, the man pauses in his kitchen thinking he’s heard something odd in his refrigerator, but then says, “Nah” and continues on. Classic.
This basketball themed McDonald’s ad gets ridiculous as only a HORSE competition between two NBA GOATS (Michael Jordan and Larry Bird) could, the back and forth starting dangerously on the court when Bird sees Jordan’s Big Mac and says, “Play you for it.”
Game on, and it escalates quickly, from some crazy full-court shots to ones from the upper balcony and eventually from on top of the Sears Tower in Chicago, and from this ad the catchphrase, “Nothing but net” began to catch on.
NFL great “Mean” Joe Green of the Pittsburgh Steelers walks past a kid limping but doesn’t believe the boy when he tells him he thinks he’s the greatest ever, that is until the lad offers him his Coke to drink, saying, “It’s okay, you can have it.”
Convinced of this little fan’s sincerity (only a true fanatic would give up his Coke, after all), Greene proceeds to chug the icy soda in one giant gulp, and with a kind smile tosses the kid his game jersey, solidifying the slogan “Have a Coke and a smile” for generations to come.
The NFL does an amazing job of running an awe-inspiring commercial that suddenly and seamlessly blends into an on-field appearance by the same actors starring in the ad, featuring a mini Odell Beckham Jr. (including the bleached mohawk and the speedy moves down the field) and a montage of inspiring shots of NFL stars telling him to “take it to the house, kid.”
This ad salutes the idea of a hundred more years of professional football with the NFL, and after we saw how the league just stepped up in 2020/2021 during an unprecedented worldwide pandemic and executed a nearly flawless season and postseason, they certainly deserve it, as do the fans who fully appreciate all those efforts.
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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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