Monday, November 16, 2015

Some colors run, after all

McDonald's currently has a promotion based on how well a given NFL team performs. It's represented by spots in which Jerry Rice peels a Cowboys game piece, and thus wears Cowboys gear and sets up a team shrine in his front yard. Similarly, Mike Ditka lands a Packers piece, and goes full Green Bay with a sweater and a statement of loyalty to Lambeau.

Apparently, fans of the 49ers and Packers, and Mike Singletary aren't taking these commercials too well, accusing the football legends of selling out, with some even blaming the ads for various jinxes.

OK. This is definitely up for review.

The entire point of the campaign is that these guys are titans of their respective teams, so therefore it's silly that they'd switch loyalties over the prospect of free french fries. (The ads wouldn't work as well with, say, Doug Flutie, though that would be funny in a different way.) No one should seriously think established legends would actually do that, even though that's totally what many fans would do when they peel their own pieces. Those who scoff at such a notion should look to anyone who plays fantasy football and cheers when the opposing quarterback gives them points. Fandom can run deep, but in the end we're all mercenaries.

That applies even to Rice and Ditka, both of whom played and/or coached for a variety of teams. Career 49er Rice finished his tenure with the Raiders and Seahawks, and even signed with the Broncos before retiring. Ditka played for the Bears, Eagles and Cowboys, and coached for the Cowboys, Bears and Saints. So the idea that either would never be affiliated with another team is an illusion.

While we're talking about legendary 49ers, don't forget that this supposed blasphemy has precedent. In 1994, Joe Montana (then with the Kansas City Chiefs!) appeared in ads for Sega's NFL Football '95. Seeing him in Chiefs colors might have already been too much for San Francisco fans (many of whom felt the quarterback got a raw deal from George Seifert), but then there was this moment of oddity:

"At some point in the past, the timeline skewed into this alternate tangent, in which Biff is corrupt and powerful, and married to your mother, and in which THIS ... has happened ... to Joe Montana!"
The game had a feature where you could trade players, and the ad depicts Montana spontaneously changing uniforms post-sack. If there was a backlash then, I didn't hear about it.

As far as the jinxes go, I'm pretty sure the Cowboys have lost seven straight because Tony Romo is out and they weren't that great even with him, and last I checked the Packers didn't need Hurricane Ditka to lose back-to-back to undefeated teams.

As someone who doesn't want (but expects) some of his favorite Saints players and coaches to be wearing different uniforms next season, I say, lighten up. McDonald's is a business offering a game. So is the NFL. 

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