Best superbowl ads

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Superbowl Sunday is the one day in the year when people will turn on the television just for the commercials. Based on 2011’s showing, those people would have been disappointed. I can’t remember much, except that most of the ads were dreadful. And then there was that one ray of light:

But will the Darth Vader kid stand the tests of time like other Superbowl classics? Like Michael Jordan and Larry Bird shooting for a Big Mac?

Or like this other great duo?

Slapstick humor often scores big:

As do animals:

And then there are those few companies that put all the pieces together and seem to start a cultural phenomenon every single year:

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Super Bowl Eve

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Courtesy of the NY Times, a handy guide to the refs' hand signals

Tomorrow we will crown the Pittsburgh Steelers or the Green Bay Packers as World Champions (never mind the fact that no other countries send contenders). Some are noting that this game is just about as evenly matched, statistics-wise, as possible. All the predictions seem to amount to a lot of conversations and nit-picking about things that may or may not matter, as statistically-based predictions always are. Yes, the Packers are “hot”–a team that hasn’t been on a winning streak doesn’t make it to the Super Bowl–and yes they lost to crappy teams in the regular season. Yes, the Steelers only lost in the regular season to playoff teams, and yes, Ben Roethlisberger is a creep. If you already have an opinion about who’s going to win the Super Bowl, the experts’ predictions probably aren’t going to change your mind. I came across a more interesting set of predictions that aren’t as concerned with percentages, streaks, quarterback comparisons, etc. Here are some of the best, written by fans:

  • The announcers overwhelm us with Brett Favre talk.
  • At least one woman in the house will say per usual “I’m just here for the commercials.”
  • Fox mentions that it’s Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday, but there’s no mention that it’s also Tom Brokaw’s 71st birthday.
  • Aaron Rodgers is the leading rusher for the Packers.

And my personal favorite:

  • Roethlisberger repays the favor and humps Mendenhall after his score.

The most amazing, sensational, dramatic, heart-wrenching, exciting, thrilling finish…

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Sports are designed to be dramatic. They are a form of entertainment in which the outcome is unknown, which makes those incredible finishes (the Miracle on Ice, the Saints’ Superbowl win*, Secretariat) seem paradoxically more predestined. Athletes are our performance artists, putting their bodies through incredible trials with the hopes of creating some lasting beauty.

American Football, as I’ve noted this week, is no stranger to drama. While the first half of a game can fly by, the last two minutes can drag on for a half hour if the game is close. Sometimes teams will try anything to win it in the last minute, and sometimes a little razzle-dazzle goes a long way. Known just as “The Play,” a series of lateral passes kept a 1982 college football game alive between the UC Golden Bears and the Stanford Cardinal, ultimately upending the score, injuring a tuba player, and inspiring teams forever afterward to lateral the ball as the clock ticks down in hopes of recreating that drama. In the clip, my favorite part is the extreme disbelief and amazement on the part of the announcer; you can hear the adrenaline in his voice inspired by the spectacle unfolding before him.

While hundreds of plays qualify as thrilling football finishes, I will leave you with arguably the most important finish of the 2010-2011 regular season. In Week 15, the Philadelphia Eagles were trailing the New York Giants 31-10 with 8 minutes left to play. Michael Vick led a remarkable comeback that left the two teams tied at 31 with just 14 seconds left in the game. The Giants, expecting to settle the matter in overtime, punted to the Eagles’ Desean Jackson. His punt return is one of those plays that remains unbelievable no matter how many times you watch it. But the play didn’t just result in an Eagles victory. If the Giants had won, they would have finished the season 11-5, ahead of the Green Bay Packers thereby precluding the Packers from reaching the playoffs.

If the Packers win the Superbowl this Sunday, I think they should give Jackson an honorary ring.

*Boo.