Super Bowl Shills: Our Favorite Ads Starring Football Players

Trading chop blocks for acting chops.

The world’s greatest advertising exhibition kicks off on Sunday afternoon, with Dabbin’ Cam Newton’s Carolina Panthers and Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos providing the justification for the $5 million price of thirty seconds of air time. What Newton and Manning share, beyond the ability to pilot a football team better than most other living human beings, is their incredible marketability; ESPN reports that Newton is bringing in $11 million in endorsement deals this season, which places him just behind Manning’s $12 million haul in 2014.

Of course, Cam and Peyton aren’t the first two football players to make that ad money. So in honor of Sunday’s Super Bo—ah, Big Game, we rounded up some of our favorite sportsman spots.

Drew Brees for ESPN’s SportsCenter

There are a lot of reasons to love Drew Brees in this excellent “This is SportsCenter” clip. There’s the silliness of it, of course—Brees trying to squeeze what is essentially the Fiat of Mardi Gras floats through the guard gate at ESPN headquarters like he’s feeding a receiver in triple coverage. But the best part is Brees himself, who scrapes his lilywhite image ever so slightly by nearly losing his cool here. As it happens, the extremely popular Bacchus parade will be rolling during the Super Bowl this Sunday, which means that most of the Nielsen TVs in the Greater New Orleans area will be strapped to the back of floats much larger than the one Brees is driving.

Troy Polamalu for Head & Shoulders

Troy Polamalu‘s Head & Shoulders commercial is wonderful. It’s short, it’s funny, and it features a ridiculous wig. And Troy Polamalu is perfect. Per Wikipedia, “Polamalu’s favorite pastimes include surfing, growing flowers, making furniture and playing the piano.”

Jonathan Ogden for Gebco

Jonathan Ogden may be a Super Bowl winner, a Hall of Famer, and an eleven-time Pro Bowl selection, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t appreciate a good deal. And hell, when you’re standing in the street responsible for what appears to be yet another man-vs.-car pile-up, sometimes you just gotta dance. Go on with your bad self, Jonathan. The group of girls standing in that Maryland field don’t have all day.

Peyton Manning for Nationwide

Yes, there have been a ton of sequels to this ad that range from kind of funny to downright stupid, but you can never forget the first time you saw Peyton Manning hum his way through this Nationwide insurance ad. It’s pretty cute at first—especially when he confirms what everyone’s thinking about those damn ice baths— but Manning is a professional athlete-turned-decent-comedic-actor and really brings it home when he serenades that chicken parm sandwich. Just try to eat one of those delicious Italian treats now without whispering “you taste so gooooood” in your head.

Tom Brady for UGG

Not every ad featuring a football star has to be silly. No one knows that better than Tom Brady—the dashing face and dazzling smile behind UGG for Men (and four New England Patriots Super Bowl wins). Brady doesn’t want to be the clown in any ads and why should he? The man married a supermodel, only eats pink Himalayan salt, and is the pride of Boston. He won’t make you laugh in a commercial, but he’ll touch your heart and make your dreams come true. FL


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