NFL

How the NFL got all those players in on that Super Bowl commercial

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If you missed the TV advertisement with all the NFL players at the NFL Formal just before the halftime concert last night, here it is:

The story behind it, from the NFL’s new chief marketing officer, Tim Ellis, who came to the league from the video game industry last September:

“When I came on board, I felt we needed to take a new communications direction. I had the best agencies in the country compete for our business, and [full-service ad agency] 72 And Sunny won the business. We said we wanted a big ad to kick off the NFL’s 100th season, and they said they could get this ready for next fall. I said no, that’s the Super Bowl spot. We want it for the Super Bowl.

“The turnaround was incredibly fast. There’s almost 50 stars in it, and we didn’t start contacting people till last December … and we taped it in mid-January. The reason we were able to pull it off is because it felt genuine and authentic to the players. The players said, ‘Whoever put this together knows football.’ “

It’s a two-minute spot. In brief: At a black-tie banquet celebrating football, with Roger Goodell at the podium, and the camera panning the room to show Dick Butkus, Joe Green, Ndamukong Suh, Peyton Manning, Orlando Pace, Alvin Kamara, Drew Brees, Michael Strahan, Rob Gronkowski, and Brian Urlacher, and Ninja, the biggest video-game influencer in the world, serves the (supposedly) best video-game player in the NFL, JuJu Smith-Schuster, who gives him a double-take look …

… There’s a gigantic cake in the middle of the room, a golden football on top, and mischievous Marshawn Lynch (in a Beast Mode sweatsuit), leans over in his chair to swipe a taste of the icing and the chair tips over and Lynch smashes the cake and the golden football skitters to the ground, and Mike Singletary screams “Fumble!!!!” and Singletary and Christian McCaffrey and a couple of others dive for the ball, and it ends up in Joe Montana’s hands, and Montana bypasses Michael Irvin to throw to Jerry Rice, but Deion Sanders intercepts and struts down the middle of the ballroom, and Urlacher smashes him into a table, which collapses, and Larry Little and Paul Warfield and Larry Csonka (of the ’72 Dolphins) look on admiringly, and Kamara and Suh enter the fray but Barry Sanders ends up with the ball and makes a pirouetting move, admired by Emmitt Smith, and Peyton Manning ends up with the ball and throws to LaDainian Tomlinson and Ed Reed destroys Tomlinson, and Jim Brown is cool with that, and then Baker Mayfield and Tom Brady, sitting at a side table, chat and Brady hands Mayfield his five Super Bowl rings and then enters the game, and somehow Terry Bradshaw has the ball and fades back to pass and Aaron Donald destroys a table to get at Bradshaw, and Bradshaw throw it high to Larry Fitzgerald with Jalen Ramsey and Derwin James in coverage, and the ball bounces high and far away …

… And Franco Harris makes an Immaculate Reception, admired by Joe Greene, and JuJu ends up with the ball and he twinkle-toes across a table, and Odell Beckham goes out for a pass and Goodell tells Patrick Mahomes (yes, he’s in it) that Beckham is open, and Mahomes no-look-passes to Beckham, who reprises his one-hand end-zone catch against Dallas while landing on a table …

… And this is a very cool moment—down judge Sarah Thomas eagle-eyes the Odell catch, and referee Ronald Torbert makes the “catch is good” signal and Thomas signals and calls “First down!” And then Tony Gonzalez catches a pass, tackled hard by Von Miller, and that viral-video adolescent female running back, Sam Gordon, has the ball, and Richard Sherman tries to steal it, and she jukes him, and laterals to Saquon Barkley, and he leads a cadre of young stars out of the frame.

All in two minutes.

“I felt in my gut this would be a big commercial and a big way to launch our 100th season,’’ said Ellis.

Logistics were fun. With the spot being taped in the middle of the playoffs, Ellis had some faux banquet rooms, with tight shots, built with the same décor as the L.A. venue. Mayfield flew to Boston and did his piece with Brady there. Mahomes flew to Orlando and did his piece with Wilson there, making a throw that was “caught” on the L.A. set by Beckham. Extra credit to Brees and Kamara for doing their piece in New Orleans a couple of days after the bitter loss in the NFL title game.

Peyton Manning was booked solid on the days it was being taped in L.A. But he found a way to make it to the set and did his part in 90 minutes.

And that’s how this breakneck commercial happened.

Read more of Peter King’s Football Morning in America by clicking here

Peter King ranks every single NFL team heading into the summer

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Mid-May. Time to take stock of the offseason. There’s not much left for teams to do before training camp. Vets with something left (Ndamukong Suh, Muhammad Wilkerson, Jay Ajayi, maybe Chris Long) could land somewhere, but those guys aren’t going to shift the balance of power in pro football’s 100th season.

So here are my rankings of the teams with most of the chairs being taken, and the music about to stop. Instead of justifying my pick in many of the fat-graf explanations, I’ll take some space on a key point that could determine success or failure with the team.

I fully expect to be wildly incorrect, so react accordingly.

The 2018 playoff teams are marked with asterisks … The teams that finished under .500 in 2018 are marked with plus-signs.

1. *KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (2018: 13-5)

Seems a little crazy with the firing of the 2017 NFL rushing champ (Kareem Hunt) six months ago and the iffy status of the NFL’s most dangerous weapon because of a child-abuse investigation (Tyreek Hill). But this is an In-Mahomes-We-Trust pick, mostly. I wonder if you could ever say that a rookie picked as low as 56—that was the draft slot of the Chiefs’ top pick, Georgia receiver-returner Mecole Hardman—would enter a season as the rookie with the most pressure to produce at a high level from opening day. With Hill facing a possible suspension to start the season, or more significant banishment, Hardman’s a huge factor for the Chiefs. I went back and watched his highlights from the 2018 national title game against Alabama, and he made a couple of prime-time plays. He took a shotgun snap at quarterback from the ‘Bama 1-yard line, play-faked to Sony Michel, and beat three defenders around the left corner for a touchdown. Then he flashed his 4.33 speed down the right sideline, beating the Alabama corner for an 80-yard TD from Jake Fromm. But is Hardman as tough and competitive as Hill? Will he strike fear into defenses? We’ll see in a tough three-week open to the KC season: at Jacksonville, at Oakland, Baltimore at home.

Read more from Football Morning in America here

2. *NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (2018: 14-5)

I just kept thinking as New England, round-by-round, let tight ends go by in the draft: Well, Bill Belichick knows he needs a tight end badly, and if he doesn’t take one, it must mean he didn’t love one, or he has plans beyond the draft. One of those plans, post-Gronk, was Ben Watson, who was highly peeved to not be active for the NFC title game as a Saint, and felt he had unfinished business as a player when he retired after the season. Watson, even at 38, is a useable player familiar with Patriot ways because he played for them for six years. I’m not sure Austin Seferian-Jenkins will be much of a factor either. And we’ll see who else comes available. Could Kyle Rudolph, for instance, in Minnesota, be a June cap casualty? That would be a golden piece for New England, though I have no idea if he’d sign with the Patriots if released. Looking at the Patriots this spring, I’m not going to sit here and kill them for not taking a Jace Sternberger in the draft. I, along with the rest of the media world, learned a lesson sometime around the fifth or sixth Super Bowl that Belichick and personnel czar Nick Caserio might know what they’re doing, and they usually figure out a better-than-competent roster to play with Tom Brady by November.

Quarterback Andrew Luck and the Colts. (Getty Images)

3. *INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (2018: 11-7)

My first surprise, having the Colts this high. I’m relying on Justin Houston an awful lot here. The Colts haven’t had a pass-rusher have a premier season since 2013, when Robert Mathis had his last great rush season with 19.5 sacks. Houston had an impact year at 29 last fall for Kansas City (14 games, 11 sacks, including playoffs), which is why the Colts outbid others for his services on the free market in March. But he missed 5, 12, 1 and 4 games (regular and postseason) in his last four Chief seasons, so this is a gamble. If the Colts get 12 effective games out of him—and if two or three or those are in the postseason—the investment will be worth it. Big if. You can tell I’m buying Houston being able to have one more strong year for a good team. I’m probably sold mostly by the fact I saw his last game for Kansas City—the overtime classic against New England in the AFC title game—and Houston played an astounding 95 of 97 snaps that cold Sunday at Arrowhead, frequently buzzing around Tom Brady.

See where the other 29 teams fall in Peter King’s Football Morning in America

Can Raiders actually trust Josh Jacobs to be a featured RB?

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Josh Jacobs, the first-round pick of the Raiders and the first running back picked in the 2019 draft, takes a truly bizarre college résumé into his NFL career.

• Jacobs played 40 games at Alabama. He ran for 100 yards against Kentucky in his fourth college outing, and then, in his final 36 games, never ran for 100 yards in a game.

• His highest 10 rushing games as a collegian, in yards gained: 100, 98, 97, 97, 89, 83, 68, 57, 52, 51.

• His biggest workloads as a collegian, in numbers of rushes in a game: 20, 16, 15, 12, 11, 11, 10, 9, 9, 8.

• In one of 40 college games, including receptions, Jacobs touched the ball 20 times.

Not to sound an alarm bell or anything, but the Raiders want Jacobs to be a bellcow back, the kind who regularly will have 20 touches or more in a game. It’s entirely possible that he’ll be great at that role. But if he is, it’ll be the first time doing it since high school in Oklahoma. In three years at Alabama, Jacobs was part of Nick Saban’s running back-by-committee system. This is going to be a very interesting test for Jacobs starting in September.

Read more from Football Morning in America here