NFL Players In Commercials: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

It’s that time of the year again! The best and the brightest will take center stage on a Sunday night filled with viewing parties for the biggest, most watched televised event in America.

That’s right. I’m talking about Super Bowl commercials. Sure, there is an NFL game on, but the commercials seem to get as much recognition as the teams that vie for the Lombardi trophy. And the air-time for those commercials seems to be as pricey as the salaries of the players.

To celebrate the annual ritual, we have collected some of the commercials that feature NFL players hocking consumer products, from pizza to drinks to credit cards to even sports in general. Some of these commercials are good! Some are pretty bad. And some are downright ugly.

The Good

Peyton Manning: Mastercard

It’s hard to choose just one Peyton Manning commercial, good or bad. There are just so many of them… probably too many of them. The older Manning has peddled everything from NERF footballs to phones to televisions to insurance to his own franchised Papa John’s locations, and he doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

One of Peyton Manning’s best commercial comes from his days as a spokesman for Mastercard in their “Priceless” commercials. You know the basic setup: the commercial lists off the breakdown pricing of charges that make up a memorable event.

In this case, Peyton Manning is heckled by the staff of the hotels as he visits the cities of rival teams while he responds to literal interpretations of statements like “You’re going down” with an innocent obliviousness that you would see on the football field. At least, while Peyton Manning was on the football field.


Clay Matthews: Fathead

Sometimes a commercial is so bad that it’s great. This Fathead ad features Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews donning a fake mustache and showing how to make your home amazing with his decal. From a hole in the wall to a cable outage, a Clay Matthews Fathead will fix it.

I can’t tell if Clay Matthews is that bad an actor, or that great at pretending to be a bad actor, but it lines up nicely with his portrayal of an infomercial handy-man. It’s like Billy Mays never left us.

Jim Harbaugh: ESPN

When it comes to commercials that feature NFL players, few do it better than cable sports channel ESPN. Maybe the station has a great sense of humor. Maybe they know which players are good actors. Maybe they just throw a ton of commercials out there.

Whatever the case may be, this commercial featuring Dan Patrick, Keith Olbermann and then-quarterback Jim Harbaugh is one of the greatest commercials ever. Very rarely does a news station poke fun at its own sensationalism, but ESPN does it beautifully in this commercial.

Check out Asinine Football Analysis.


The Bad

Ickey Woods: GEICO

Until this commercial, I really didn’t know much about Ickey Woods. Now I can’t get enough of him.

Ickey Woods was a fullback for the Cincinnati Bengals who used to do the “Ickey Shuffle” whenever he scored a touchdown. Unfortunately, Woods was plagued by injuries, so he only danced the “Ickey Shuffle” 27 times in his career.

Surprisingly, I have to put this commercial in the “Bad” category. Not because I don’t think it’s funny to see Ickey Woods so excited about cold cuts. It’s because I don’t like how laughing about this makes me feel.

Ray Lewis, Justin Tuck, Matt Light (and possibly others): SoBe

I get it. It’s funny to see athletes in one of the most violent sports in the free world prancing around to the ballet. But sometimes the joke lasts for a whole five seconds until it becomes disturbing. That is what happened when Ray Lewis, Matt Light and Justin Tuck were featured in a Super Bowl ad for SoBe.

It’s not that the idea is bad. Even the CGI reptiles are pretty crisp. Unfortunately, it just lasts for way too long, even as far as Super Bowl ads go.

Tony Romo: Pepsi

The worst way a commercial can depict an athlete is by making them better than they are. Such is the case with Tony Romo in this Pepsi commercial.

I’m not saying that Tony Romo is a bad quarterback. I’m saying that he is not like Ben Roethlisberger, shaking tacklers off left and right as he checks down the field. If they showed Romo throwing an interception, even as a giant, that would make a lot more sense.

Buy NFL gear for your favorite team.


The Ugly

Peyton Manning and Eli Manning: DirecTV

As I was saying, Peyton Manning is to commercials as money is to a bank. It’s mostly our own fault, considering how we all talk about how great he is at acting. In terms of NFL players, anyway.

His younger brother Eli? Not so great. Those Toyota commercials are cute but, for the most part, it’s hard to see anyone buying something because Eli Manning is their spokesman.

When you put the two Manning brothers together, sometimes magic happens. Or, in the case where the brothers decide to dream about releasing a rap video in this DirecTV commercials, the sort of magic that most people dislike happens.

Joe Flacco: Pizza Hut

Some people think the nickname “Boring Joe” is too harsh to put on Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. Those people clearly have not seen Flacco in front of a camera.

As this commercial for Pizza Hut shows, Joe Flacco is boring and a bad actor. Put those two together, and chances are you won’t be selling much pizza.

Patrick Emmel is a sports humorist who once punted a soccer ball fifty yards to his teammate, who then scored the only goal for his college intramural soccer team’s season. Seriously, that kick was placed PERFECTLY. He is also still a believer that Colt McCoy is going to break out as an NFL quarterback. You can read more of his obnoxious commentary at This Jeer In Sports and heckle him on Twitter @Patrick_AE.


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