Brace yourself to see a commerical Sunday that you wouldn’t expect to pop up during the Super Bowl: An NFL ad on player safety.
The league, according to The New York Times, has anted up several million dollars to produce the TV spot and a companion website, nfl.com/evolution. It looks like it is an attempt to rehabilitate the NFL’s image.
The NFL has 120 seconds of very, very valuable commercial avails on NBC during the big game, which is pitting the New York Giants against the New England Patriots. The Times reported that 30 seconds of ad time during the game is selling for an average $3.5 million. But the NFL will still devote half of its ad time, 60 second, to its safety spot.
A cynic might question the NFL’s timing and motives.
The league is now facing a dozen lawsuits from ex-players who allege that the NFL hid, or ignored, evidence that repeated concussions can cause permanent brain damage. In fact, The Times quoted a lawyer who is representing some of those players. He believes the TV spot will paint an unrealistic, rosy picture about how the NFL has been addressing player safety for years.
The ad was directed by a talented TV actor/director, Peter Berg, who was the force behind the high-school football drama “Friday Night Lights,” The Times reported. It will run at the end of the third quarter of the game, and will depict the sports “evolution,” in terms of gear and rules.
The commercial with apparently end with a comment by Ravens player Ray Lewis, who The Times reported will say, “Here’s to making the next century safer and more exciting. Forever forward. Forever football.”
In another interesting tidbit, The Times said that the players’ union and the NFL are talking about devoting much of the $100 million they have for medical research, as part of their contract, to the Foundation of the National Institutes of Health. That money would go toward research on concussions.
The commercial will probably be well produced and memorable, but it won’t make a batch of lawsuits disappear.