New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady came into yesterday’s Super Bowl with something to prove. Brady wanted to show that despite the controversy surrounding “Deflategate,” he could still win the Super Bowl—his record fifth Super Bowl, no less. The Atlanta Falcons also had something to prove: that young, inexperienced talent can beat the practiced, “been there won that” precision of Bill Belichick’s Patriots. It ended up being a showdown for the ages.
A game preceded by a coin toss from the clearly excited but frail President George H.W. Bush took a while to get going with a slow first quarter, but by the time I was into my second beer, Atlanta had started their scoring blitz. When Lady Gaga’s drone-filled halftime show started, the Falcons had a commanding 21-3 lead which included a pick-six off Brady, a truly rare event. But never count out the Patriots.
As the game got going, we were hit with what seemed like more commercials than ever before. Besides the usual ads for bad movies, bad beer, and “oh crap it’s tax time,” it was impossible to miss the politics in some of Sunday’s commercials.
Perhaps the most controversial ad of the entire game came from 84 Lumber, a building supplies company out of Pennsylvania that you have probably never heard of until now. The ad, called “The Journey Begins,” features a Latino mother and daughter on a harrowing journey to the Mexico-U.S. border. We see the would-be immigrants walk through rainy border towns, trek across the dusty desert, and sleep beside a roaring fire in wild.
When the official Super Bowl version of the commercial ends, it tells viewers to go online to see the rest of the story.
Upon visiting 84 Lumber’s website, we see the rest of the ad, which Fox deemed too controversial to air. It intersperses the rest of the mother and daughter’s journey with construction workers, some of whom are also Latino, building something we can’t identify. When the mother and daughter finally reach America’s southern border they encounter what the construction workers have been building all this time: a giant wall, presumably President Donald Trump’s giant wall.
After the daughter pulls out a small American flag made of red, white, and blue scraps that she has picked up along their journey to comfort her crying mother, the duo notices a door further down the wall. They run to the huge door, push it open, and walk into the light and promise of America they have worked so hard to reach. The ad closes with a pickup full of construction materials driving away with the message: “The will to succeed is always welcome here.”
If 84 Lumber wanted everyone to know who they are, they certainly succeeded. Then again, by wading right into the middle of what is perhaps the biggest controversy of Trump’s campaign and now young presidency, they’re also getting visceral reactions from both sides of the issue. They’ll also likely earn some angry tweets from the president himself, and never win a government contract under this administration.
84 Lumber wasn’t the only company with a discussion-sparking commercial. Budweiser’s “Born the Hard Way” ad tells the story of Adolphus Busch, the company’s co-founder, as he immigrates from Germany to St. Louis, including his difficult crossing of the Atlantic, a fiery steam ship disaster, and people yelling that he’s not welcome here. The ad finishes with Busch meeting Eberhard Anheuser, thus founding Anheuser-Busch.
There is already a #BoycottBudweiser campaign by Trump supporters in response.
Between controversial commercials was the actual game, which ended up being the most exciting Super Bowl ever. Atlanta went into the second half with what seemed like an insurmountable lead, but the Patriots scored 25 unanswered points in the second half to push the Super Bowl into the first overtime in its 51-year history. It was the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history.
Belichick, Brady, and the entire Patriots organization proved that hard work, dedication, and preparation win championships. Brady walked into this game as one of the league’s elite quarterbacks. With his record fifth Super Bowl title now in hand, Brady has solidified himself as the best NFL quarterback ever.
Yesterday’s win came despite Brady’s four-game suspension at the beginning of the season for the much over-blown “Deflategate.” As confetti was streaming down from the ceiling of NRG Stadium and fans were flooding the field, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell pushed through the crowd to Brady and shook his hand. As he looked at the man who had tried to ruin his career and reputation, Brady wore a grin that only a satisfied champion can have, and New England fans everywhere said “Suck it Roger!”