This past Sunday during Super Bowl LIV, one of the most popular commercials featured a young athlete running from city to city with a football, ultimately ending up at Hard Rock Stadium where he delivered the game ball. A personal favorite for so many, this commercial was about much more football.
"Take it to the house, kid." Viewers hear this phrase from all-time football greats Jim Brown and Joe Montana and three-time Super Bowl winner Julian Edelman. All the players, past and present, in the Next 100 commercial have been role models for sports fans for years. Their success is inspiring and they are living, breathing examples of hard work paying off. The young football player in the commercial, Maxwell "Bunchie" Young, is given the game ball by 97-year-old Virginia McCaskey, owner of the Chicago Bears. McCaskey has been alive for all but three years of the NFL's duration and has been able to witness the strides the NFL has made over the years. She is just one of the multitude of women who are finally getting the recognition they deserve in a league that has been dominated by men. Two-time Olympic gold medalist and two-time World Cup winner Carli Lloyd was also featured kicking a field goal in the commercial, showcasing her strength and accuracy.
The statue honoring the legacy of Pat Tillman was also shown in the Next 100 commercial. Tillman was a professional football player who enlisted in the Army and was killed in combat in 2004. Tillman isn't remembered for his stats, he's remembered for his bravery. This proves to show that the NFL is about more than football. "Take it to the house" is deeper than football. It's always deeper than football. The almost three-minute commercial summed up just bits and pieces of a hundred years of NFL history, but what we didn't see are the millions of dollars raised for countless charities by professional athletes, the young girls who are gaining confidence to play sports that for years have been "boy sports," and the next generation of difference-makers and go-getters who will undoubtedly change the world.
According to the NFL website, the NFL Foundation has contributed nearly $370 million to the most important aspects of the game of football: youth football leagues, player protection, and community involvement. The website doesn't say that wins are the most important aspects of the game. Not even Super Bowls are the most important aspects of the game. The most important aspects of the game don't necessarily get the publicity of game-winning touchdowns, but they are what gives us the reasons to love the game we love so well.
The commercial that tugged at America's heartstrings featured just one kid taking it to the house. What we didn't see were the millions of kids across the world taking it to the house every single day. In sports, in school, and in life in general: there are kids, and even adults out there, taking it to the house. Maybe you didn't realize it while you were enjoying your Super Bowl party, but this commercial is celebrating more than just a hundred years of football. It's celebrating courage, determination, passion, and a love that goes beyond football. It's celebrating the idea that anyone can "take it to the house." Football isn't just a game, it's a catalyst for the next generation to make their dreams come true. So, take it to the house. Here's to the next 100.
You can watch the commercial here: NEXT 100 | NFL Super Bowl LIV Commercial