Nick Foles’ Brilliance, A Dirty Dancing Cameo and #Tideads Headline Super Bowl LII

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To all but the most optimistic Eagles Fans, any chance of a Super Bowl run appeared to have been unforgivingly annihilated. In the midst of Philadelphia’s best start to the regular season since 2004, starting quarterback and MVP front-runner Carson Wentz tore his ACL on what was otherwise an innocuous dive into the end zone against the Rams in Week 14.  Devastation ensued.

Fast forward to Feb. 5, 2018: What defined the game itself was the explosiveness of both teams on offense. Not only did the 74 total points greatly exceed the Vegas expectation of 49.5 for the total score between both teams, but both teams also combined for a record number of yards at 1,151. Football traditionalists were disappointed by the lack of defense, but it was easily overshadowed by Nick Foles’ brilliance. Released by the Rams in 2013 having and considered retirement last off-season, Foles dominated Super Bowl LII with 373 yards and three touchdowns.

Foles hoisted the Lombardi Trophy as Eagles fans attempted to climb up greased telephone poles in jubilation. Miraculous? Perhaps. Unexpected? Certainly. Eagles fan and junior Kat Saylor said she and her family were “crying tears of joy and laughter… it was the first time I saw my dad cry.”

One unique aspect of the Super Bowl is its enormous stage for commercials. For one day out of the year, fans around the country gather around the TV during commercials due to their hilarious and creative nature.

Many companies, including Budweiser, touted their humanitarian efforts. In a year in which natural disasters have been prevalent, their commercial depicted factory workers filling up beer cans with water that were later shipped around the country to areas in need. This was not just a publicity stunt, as Adweek reported they had distributed over 78 million cans of water for disaster relief. It was a bold move to ditch the classic Clydesdale Horses altogether, but the risk paid off as viewers were charmed by their selfless humanitarian efforts.

But the biggest theme of the night for commercials was the constant deception, which kept viewers on their toes all night. During the first commercial break, “Game of Thrones” star Peter Dinklage and “voice of God” Morgan Freeman engaged in a rap battle over Doritos Blaze vs. Mountain Dew Ice. Morgan Freeman rapping Missy Elliot certainly would not top the list of expected Freeman cameos, but that is what makes Super Bowl commercials so special.

              Tide detergent has been a recent center of controversy as the #tidepodchallenge has caused aspiring YouTube stars and unassuming younger siblings to investigate the poisonous pods in an effort to gain popularity. For Tide, an effective advertising campaign overshadowed their PR disaster for one night and potentially even longer. They opened up with “Stranger Things” star David Harbour in a series of cliché commercials in which he consistently interrupted by saying, “Nope, it’s a #Tidead,” due to their unstained clothes. Dispersed throughout the game, fifteen second commercials started inauspiciously, but none were safe from Harbour butting in and claiming it is a #Tidead. Whether it was the Clydsdale horses, Mr. Clean or an old woman having back problems during a routine game of tennis, no commercial was safe.

The NFL itself got in on the action this year with one of the most creative commercials of the night. For the past few years, referees have flagged any celebration beyond a basic high-five. But as fans revolted and gave the league the “No Fun League” moniker, the NFL relented and claimed “celebrations are back.” To further back this claim, they filmed New York Giant stars Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. recreating the iconic final dance move from “Dirty Dancing” with Beckham playing the role of Jennifer Gray as he was hoisted into the air by Manning.

Another breakout star came in the form of a 6-foot-5, 250-pound behemoth from Orange County California. Zach Ertz had seven catches for 67 yards and a touchdown and exploded in popularity similarly to Von Miller two seasons ago. While he certainly had a great game and an exceptional season, his marriage with USWNT star Julie Ertz took center stage as the couple was featured multiple times during the post-game ceremonies.

Noticeably absent from the broadcast was mention of previous Patriots controversies. Wesleyan Class of 2004 alumnus Drew Prehmus said, “I think it’s interesting they didn’t mention deflate gate while also trying to make Ertz into a celebrity.” While Malcom Butler’s lack of playing time was discussed ad nauseam, Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth were hushed on deflation jokes in what could be perceived as an attempt to please Patriot fans.

Wesleyan Class of 2010 alumnus David Andrews once again had an outstanding game at center for the Patriots. Senior Sam Dudley said, “Andrews played exceptionally well against a strong Philadelphia Eagles Defensive line.” Andrews and the Patriots line only allowed one sack all night, and on the one Brandon Graham strip-sack of Brady, he was busy blocking Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox.

For the Eagles, Foles’ emergence in these playoffs will inevitably create a QB controversy between him and Wentz, which has already resulted in front offices around the league calling in player personnel director Howie Roseman. Foles is still on contract for $7 million next season, which presents the Eagles with multiple options for their new star. Trading him to a desperate franchise like the Cleveland Browns could result in a lucrative first round pick, but it would leave them exposed in the scenario in which Wentz is not 100 percent recovered by the beginning of next season. During the dog days of the summer, the provocateur Philadelphia sports media will surely throw out the idea of trading away Wentz, but the notion of trading away an MVP caliber quarterback on his team-friendly rookie contract would be suggesting exchanging perhaps one of the top five most valuable commodities in all of football.

For the Patriots, the end of their dynasty appears to be near. Bill Belichick has already been rumored to be leaving or retiring in the next few seasons, which has only been highlighted more by Josh McDaniel’s decision to stay in Foxborough (allegedly as head-coach-in-waiting) when he was offered a head coaching job in Indianapolis. And while Tom Brady had an exceptional season statistically, he has begun to show flashes of a career coming to a close. As Christian Life Director Greg Lisson said about the Patriots quarterback, “We learned that Tom Brady isn’t perfect.” As for the commercials, they were not perfect but instead sprinkles of brilliance in between an exceptional game.

 

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