During Super Bowl LIII, the NFL ran an ad celebrating its 100th year of existence that was, without a doubt, the most entertaining ad the league has ever produced, featuring past and present football stars at a banquet where all hell breaks loose after a football falls to the floor. The NFL later captioned the spot on Twitter, “The all-time greatest, most competitive NFL players gathered for the #NFL 100 gala. What could possibly go wrong?”
The ad starts normally enough, as all the players and their dates are seated dressed up at various tables. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, from the lectern in front, intones, “Welcome to the 100th season of the National Football league.” As the players applaud, Goodell continues, “Tonight is not about the league. It’s about football.”
The camera cuts to Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch looking longingly at a huge, many-tiered cake near him that has a golden football on top. Goodell continues, “It’s about the players. The fans,” as Lynch, looking bored and getting more interested in the cake, leans in his chair and starts reaching with his hand to grab a piece of the cake. Goodell continues, “The moment,” just as the chair gives way under Lynch, and his hand grabs the cake, toppling the football from its perch atop the cake. Goodell, oblivious, adds “And everything else, that makes you say —”, but former Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos famed quarterback Peyton Manning, seeing the football spinning on the floor in the midst of the tables and sensing what is imminent, mutters, “Oh, boy —” as the camera cuts to former Chicago Bear middle linebacker Mike Singletary whipping off his glasses and yelling, “Fumble!”
A pile-on ensues as players dive for the football, led by Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey and Los Angeles Rams nose tackle Ndamukong Suh. The ball winds up in the hands of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana. When former Dallas Cowboys star wide receiver Michael Irvin calls to Montana for the ball, Montana grins, “No can do, Cowboy,” then rifles the ball to his favorite target: former 49ers receiver Jerry Rice, only to have the ball intercepted by former star defensive back for the Cowboys Deion Sanders, who takes off with the ball as he runs through tables, until former Chicago Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher hurtles through the air and sends Sanders crashing on top of a table.
The camera pans to former Miami Dolphins running back Larry Csonka and wide receiver Paul Warfield laughing at a table before returning to the action, where Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley has taken off with the ball, lateraling it to famed broken field runner Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders, who naturally zigs and zags around everyone as the camera pans to former Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith who regales the women at his table by noting, “You know I have more yards than they do.”
Manning finally gets the ball, calling “Go deep,” before zipping the ball across the room to former San Diego Chargers running back Ladainian Tomlinson, prompting former New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan to say, “You’ve still got it.” The oft-injured Manning, wincing and holding his shoulder, mutters, “That hurt.”
Cut to former Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed, resplendent in a silver sports coat, as he targets Tomlinson, sending him crashing into a table, but not before Tomlinson has lateraled the ball, though as the crash occurs, legendary running back Jim Brown grins, “Boy, this is a great party.”
The camera cuts to New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who only hours after the ad aired in real life would win his sixth Super Bowl, sitting with Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield, who chides him, “Get out there, old man.” Brady takes off his five Super Bowl rings, hands them to Mayfield, and says, “Hold these.”
By now former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw, who has four Super Bowl rings along with Montana, has the ball, and blitzed by Los Angles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, hurls it across the room intending it for former Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, only to have it tipped by Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey, then caught on the run at his shoetops by Bradshaw’s teammate Franco Harris, just as what happened in the most amazing play in football history, the Immaculate Reception. Harris and Bradshaw’s teammate, defensive tackle Joe Greene, grins, “Yes.”
The ball winds up in the hands of Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, leaping from table to table, then Kansas City Chiefs quarterback and current MVP Patrick Mahones, who fires it slingshot-style to New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. Then Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller targets the ball carrier, sending him flying into the cake, as the camera pans to former Chicago Bears middle linebacker Dick Butkus moaning, “Not the cake!”
The football now is held by Sam Gordon, a female running back who played football in the Salt Lake City area, taunting Seattle Seahawks defensive back Richard Sherman, “You want this? Come and get it!” She then throws it to New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley, who performs his distinctive leap over a defender and runs away from the crowd as the ad comes to a close.