In case you haven’t heard, Sunday night’s Super Bowl was a bit of a snore, unless you’re a fan of punting or heavily bearded wide receivers, and the highlight of the night might not have taken place on the field. Just before the halftime show began, the NFL aired a commercial that was meant to kick off its 100th anniversary celebration. Everyone who’s anyone was in it, and football stars past and present chased down a loose ball caused by that rascally Marshawn Lynch.
Here’s a list of everyone in the commercial, in order of appearance (names via the NFL on the YouTube version of the commercial):
Roger Goodell, Dick Butkus, Joe Greene, Aaron Donald, Peyton Manning, Orlando Pace, Alvin Kamara, Drew Brees, Michael Strahan, Rob Gronkowski, Brian Urlacher, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marshawn Lynch, Beth Mowins, Eli Manning, Ndamukong Suh, Mike Singletary, Christian McCaffrey, Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Michael Irvin, Deion Sanders, Larry Little, Paul Warfield, Larry Csonka, Todd Gurley II, Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith, LaDainian Tomlinson, Larry Fitzgerald, Ed Reed, Jim Brown, Baker Mayfield, Tom Brady, Terry Bradshaw, Patrick Peterson, Odell Beckham Jr., Derwin James, Jalen Ramsey, Franco Harris, Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, Sarah Thomas, Ron Torbert, Tony Gonzalez, Von Miller, Richard Sherman and Saquon Barkley.
With about 10 seconds left in the spot, the ball ends up in the hands of Sam Gordon, whose on-field exploits as a 9-year-old girl playing in a boys’ league became a viral sensation back in 2012. Gordon has since become something of a football activist, filing a Title IX lawsuit against three Salt Lake City school districts for not offering girls’ tackle football. In the commercial, Gordon tries to avoid Sherman with a spin move before pitching the ball to Barkley, who runs out the clock, so to speak.
In all, there were 44 NFL greats in the commercial along with football-adjacent personalities such as Gordon, Mowins (the ESPN announcer who became the first woman to do play-by-play of a nationally televised NFL game in 2017), Thomas (the first permanent female official in NFL history) and Ninja (a prominent gamer).
According to Peter King, the commercial was something of a rush job, as the league did not start contacting the players about it until December and the spot wasn’t filmed until mid-January, right in the middle of the playoffs. Because of the sheer numbers involved, director Peter Berg (of “Friday Night Lights” and “Patriots Day” fame) had to use creative editing: Mayfield flew to Boston to film his shot with Brady, and the bit with Mahomes and Wilson was filmed in Orlando. The pass thrown by Mahomes was caught by Beckham in Los Angeles. Peyton Manning banged out his scenes in 90 minutes.
“It’s a fun spot,” Berg told the Associated Press. “It’s meant to be wild and fun. There’s a lot of funny stuff. Emmitt Smith was funny, and so was [Terry] Bradshaw.”