Reviewing almost every frame of the NFL’s Super Bowl ad

Let’s rank everyone in the this commercial. Ed Reed is number one.

The all-time greatest, most competitive NFL players gathered for the #NFL100 gala. What could possibly go wrong?

— NFL (@NFL) February 4, 2019

The only way to really run through the full scope of the best ad at the Super Bowl — the NFL’s chaotic, crashing ode to itself and it’s 100th season — is to review almost every frame of it. There’s that much in it, so much that I feel like we can all skip right past Roger Goodell completely and get to the players.

Speaking of ignoring Roger Goodell!

Alvin Kamara and Drew Brees are smiling because they got to read the script ahead of time and know what just happened to the Rams.

Any frame with Marshawn in it is a quality frame. I chose this one because it speaks to me on a personal level, because this is exactly how I look at cake. This is also how Marshawn Lynch looks at cake, both as someone with a well-documented sweet tooth and as a self-described prestige NFL “Fat back”. I both want the huge football cake for myself, and for Marshawn, golden football and decorum be damned.

Good storytelling is about vividly portrayed and familiar characters, the things they want, and the struggle to bridge the distance between them. That’s all this is right here: For want of cake, Marshawn Lynch upsets the world. (Worth it, because: Cake.)

Sometimes when going through casting options, it’s important to avoid overthinking things. Which player will definitely throw societal norms out first and start a brawl at a formal event? Yes, check the box, that is Ndamukong Suh, no need for second options here.

Follow-up: Which player will not, under any circumstances, get involved in that brawl because his mom might hear about it and yell at him? Eli Manning, just pencil that in and don’t entertain other choices. He had the role before we even started shooting.

Okay so you know that thing directors do sometimes where they don’t tell the actors what’s going to happen so the reactions are real? That’s what’s happening here. Mike Singletary is not acting, and has instead just done what he always does when someone rolls an unattended ball onto the ground. It’s made his life hell and destroyed his social life.

Please do not laugh at Mike Singletary or his crippling and overdeveloped football instincts. It’s not funny for him, or for his fatigued and embarrassed family.

Christian McCaffrey looks like he’s got a precious idol in his hand and is about to say “We have to stop meeting like this, Dr. Jones”. No, actually, he doesn’t think this belongs in a museum.

Really just wanted to point out how beautifully framed each shot here is. Renaissance paintings kiss my entire ass, look at that composition and range of human emotions. I’ve been saying Rembrandt is trash for years and will continue to do so when the modern competition is burying him on basic crap like Super Bowl commercials. Step up and buy like one light bulb and then paint something I can see, you cheap bastard.

Tag yourself here, this is me.

This ad is a reminder that Joe Montana is just extremely game at all times. Max effort in every role, like when he played himself in a skit on Saturday Night Live back in 1987 and repeatedly used the word “masturbate” on network television in a time when people didn’t get jobs because they said it out loud.

I haven’t watched Saturday Night Live in years. However, I think it’s safe to assume it’s only gotten better with time, and that this is something everyone agrees on universally as a matter of public opinion.

Again, this man is not acting here. I haven’t followed Jerry Rice on Twitter for years just to tell you he’s a) not trying out for a team here and b) that he isn’t convinced he wouldn’t be a 1,000 yard receiver in 2019’s NFL. Pump-fake around him in public and see if that arm doesn’t fly up to show you just how open he is at the California Pizza Kitchen at 11:45 am on a Tuesday.

Michael Irvin is the Voice of Reason here. Michael Irvin once attacked a teammate sitting in a barber’s chair with a pair of scissors. I see you, ironic screenwriter. I see everything you’re doing here, and appreciate it.

That is definitely Deion high-stepping…

…but there is no way Deion took a hit for this ad because a) CGI is an amazing technology and b) Deion is a smart man, and not a dumb one.

On the other hand, there is no way Brian Urlacher — star of Netflix’s original anime Copgod: Father of Cops — did not lay this hit himself. Not a chance.

I’m torn. Part of me wants to pay the 1972 Dolphins zero attention because they played football when there were ten plays and everyone weighed about as much as the average American in 2019 weighs.

Then again, as an aspiring old bastard, I’m very much respectful of stunting on an old record no matter how wobbly it might be in context. Also, I’ve always agreed with the ‘72 Dolphins champagne is a light, refreshing beverage suitable not just for formal events, but for a whole host of social occasions, too.

It’s fraught, so let’s just put this right here in the middle because that’s pretty much where the Miami Dolphins end up in most football-related things.

Todd Gurley averaged one touch every two minutes in this ad. In the actual Super Bowl, Todd Gurley had just eleven touches overall in Sean McVay’s game plan. If the director of this commercial had coached the Rams against the Patriots, Gurley would have touched the ball a projected thirty times, and the Rams would have had a better chance of winning.

QED: The director of this commercial is a better football coach than Sean McVay.

Barry Sanders makes two people miss in this despite having a tie knot the size of an artichoke. Legendary performance.

Emmitt Smith putting together a fully-rounded resume here: Superb line delivery (“Y’all know I have more yards than they do, right”), immaculately groomed facial hair that embraces his age, the butterfly bow-tie, a full flex with the earrings, and the impression that he’s not getting out of his chair unless the place is on fire AND out of champagne?

Flawless retired-and-loving it vibes here, no old NFL man does this with more assurance.

Peyton dunking on himself at every opportunity is his brand, and also distracts everyone from pointing out the subtle but still substantial comeback his hairline made over the last few years. Peyton also puts in a good nod early on in the ad, a hard thing to do when your head is the size of an obelisk. He’s not asked to do much here, but it’s craftsman-level work nonetheless.

Michael Strahan contributes little here but still gets a credit. Next entry is related to recent events.

Baker Mayfield calls Tom Brady old and wears a suit he got off an assassin in John Wick 2, and therefore gets an A for his work here. Tom Brady says he’s going to do something, takes off his rings, and stands up. He is seen doing nothing for the rest of the ad. This is why Tom Brady is the favorite player of every aspiring management-class person in the United States.

Again: I see you, subtly savage scriptwriter.

Rob Gronkowski looks like the heir to a bankrupt but still titled duchy somewhere obscure and European. Sure he’s a baron in title for the party invites — but he DJs in Miami three nights a week for the money. What I am saying: If Rob Gronkowski never opened his mouth, someone would hand him the keys to a dilapidated castle and the reins of a serviceable war horse without asking a single question.

Brian Urlacher with hair looks like the Father of all Cops, and also star of the Netflix anime original series Copgod: Father of Cops. He hasn’t touched his salad because “I don’t eat what my food eats”.

Ninja says hello to JuJu Smith-Schuster, the joke being that Juju played Fortnite with Ninja and Drake, and now in person does not recognize him. Juju Smith-Schuster may not really recognize Ninja here. That is fine because unlike every football player, Ninja makes a half mil a month playing video games without risk of heinous injury, and cannot be spotted or bothered on the street by 99.9 percent of Americans. WHO’S LAUGHING NOW, JOCKS?

Richard Sherman gets faked out by a child. Yes, a spectacularly gifted, pioneering, and award-winning football child. Yes, it’s also what the the script says. But if you’re a DB then that ball is yours. Why does she have the ball still, Richard? This is going to hurt during film study during the week, and I want it to, for you, Richard. I want it to sizzle. I want you to feel that burn so you don’t feel it again next week against Arizona.

A brief note to say: The play-fake by the director here to have Aaron Donald and not Ndamukong Suh be the answer to “Who will sack and hurt an old man?” is nifty. Suh would sack a senior citizen if he had to, I have no doubt of this. It’s just the role-switching and confounding of the viewer’s expectations is nice here, that’s all.

That’s three DBs — Patrick Peterson, Derwin James, and Jalen Ramsey — and two wide receivers, Odell Beckham, Jr and Larry Fitzgerald. So yes, Terry Bradshaw is throwing into what is at least double coverage. The accuracy overall here remains untouchable.


Saquon got his hurdle shot. The identity of the player completely embarrassed on the play isn’t clear, but I think it’s safe to assume on principle that he’s an Atlanta Falcon.

Patrick Mahomes being a blur throwing across his body works. So does Russell Wilson sitting down and saying “hi” politely while not getting up to join the mess. Russell Wilson is just waiting for dinner rolls and a chance to talk about a few of his favorite brands because he is Russell Wilson. Both players are deeply on brand here.

Odell gets a circus catch and crashes into a table. After watching this ad twenty times or so, this is general statement of fact: more media content should involve demolishing large cakes and elaborate banquet settings. This ad recognizes that, and I appreciate its solidarity in bringing back a hallowed American cinematic tradition of destroying expensive things for our entertainment. NO THIS IS NOT THE FILMMAKER’S CLEVER HIDDEN METACOMMENTARY ON FOOTBALL AS A WHOLE, WHY DO YOU ASK?

Von’s got a bigass cowboy hat, his eighties electrician glasses on, and the reverse white/black formal wear scheme going with an embroidered jacket. Top ten all by itself.

I want to conclude with this frame. This ad gives Ed Reed this giant hero shot like Ed is about to:

Snatch a baby stroller out of the path of a rolling 18-wheeler
Organize a successful casino heist
Meet the love of his life, become the love of their life, and yet refuse to commit because doing so would compromise his integrity as America’s last line of defense against evil
Fight Death in hand-to-hand combat and win

Ed Reed is not only capable of all of these things, but probably has done at least two of them in real life. The jacket alone would have merited top placement, but having him lurking only to strike when least expected? That’s doing your work in the film room, there. Top billing here, because Ed puts his heart in this shit.

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