May I take a brief moment to inform you of perhaps the most boorish commercial I have ever seen.
I suspect there are many of you who have recently seen the Nissan commercial showing Heisman Trophy winners engaging in a food fight in the Heisman House, supposedly the meeting place for winners of the prestigious award, but actually a location from which more Nissan automobiles could be sold.
These men represent the best of college football over the years, rewarded for their outstanding performances as the best player in the nation for each year since 1935. Each of them competed all their careers against others nearly as good to win the award.
Byron White became a Supreme Court Justice. Bruce Smith was nominated for sainthood. General Pete Dawkins was a Rhodes Scholar.
Not all winners were as successful. O. J. Simpson’s troubles are well-documented. But by and large, they have remained good citizens. What in the name of Knute Rockne caused them to participate in a food fight right out of “Animal House,” if not for the money?
Humiliating themselves and besmirching all that the Heisman has stood for, they should be ashamed. I understand humor. This was in no way funny. Men standing on a dinner table throwing food at each other succeeded in a John Belushi movie because he was playing who he was, a character we all knew from SNL.
These were grown men, supposedly educated, representing an elite group in a nationally recognized sport. Debased was what it was.
I am often puzzled at some commercials and their messages. People better versed than I in the public’s tastes make decisions based on extensive research. But I cannot fathom for a moment how this degradation of a fine institution such as the Heisman Award will sell Nissan automobiles. Quite to the contrary, most football fans I know would now hesitate to buy their cars based on this crude and sophomoric satire.
Previous commercials had these men placed within the collegial confines of their club poking fun at one another over miscues made during their careers. Self deprecating in nature, they were humorous in a good natured way.
But this one portrayed these grown men as buffoons, looking foolish, churlish and clueless as bedlam broke out at the dinner table, creating havoc with spaghetti and puddings flying towards each other to howls of laughter.
One wonders what the oldest living member of the club, ninety-two-year-old 1947 winner, quarterback Johnny Lujack, a paragon of class both at his alma mater, Notre Dame, and throughout a very successful broadcasting and business career, would have to say on the issue.
Hey, here’s a novel idea. Why not have these wise marketing suits do a commercial showing Heisman winners out in the neighborhoods and towns they came from, teaching young boys and girls how to throw spirals so that those kids might one day emulate these heroes on school gridirons.