Tag Archives: NFL

A Super Bowl List of Lists: The Best Commercials and More

Idina Menzel, Adele Dazeem, Super Bowl, National Anthem

Let’s hope John Travolta doesn’t introduce her.

Remember when the Super Bowl was just the NFL’s championship?

Neither do I.

It’s long been one of those few remaining events that can still seize the national attention, like the Oscars or a presidential election. You don’t have to care about sports to be interested in the Super Bowl. It touches on everything — advertising, of course, but also pop culture, social media and just about anything else that any target audience might want to consume, purchase or discuss.

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Aw, cute… the kitten, too. (Bah-dah-bing!)

Here’s a list of some of the more interesting lists about the Super Bowl out there, just to illustrate the obvious in a fun way. And to help give you a few juicy factoids to drop if you’re stuck at a party with people who actually want to talk about, you know: The Game.

  1. The most exciting Super Bowls of all time, according to stats stud Nate Silver.

Lots of lists on Super Bowl commercials, of course:

  1. The Wall Street Journal – tops online so far for 2015’s game.
  2. I Heart Radio – Top 26 ads ever
  3. Good Morning America – The top 10
  1. Remember Oreo? Check out the best-ever brand tweets during Super Bowls
  1. Every Super Bowl: winners and losers
  1. The hottest players, ranked by The Gaily Grind. Trust the gays on this one – Gronk, anyone? Much better judges than whoever …
  1. … compiled this ranking of all the rear ends in the game, from Buzzfeed
  1. Can’t make it to Vegas but want to bet? The best sports books here to put some money down…
  1. … and more to bet on, including how Idina Menzel might do in her National Anthem performance.

Second only to lists about commercials might be lists about food for your Super Bowl parties.

  1. Here are 50 from The Food Network
  1. Buzzfeed ranks more from worst to best
  1. Wardrobe malfunction – or Up with People? The best halftime shows
  1. The top Classic Rock commercials
  1. And finally, something from real life… The Best Super Bowl / Bucket List Headline: Wrongfully convicted man gets sent to the game with his dad.
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Gay Athletes — A Look Back Shows How Much the Story Has Changed in Just a Few Years

Billy Bean, Esera Tuaolo, Glenn Burke, Michael Sam, Jason Collins, gay, lgbt, gay athletes, NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, major league baseball, national football league, national basketball association, super bowl, homosexuals, sports, athletes, gay men in sports

Billy Bean, former baseball player, and Esera Tuaolo, formerly of the NFL

UPDATE: Michael Sam signed with the Dallas Cowboys to join the practice team today, Sept. 9. This article was posted Feb.26.

Remember Esera Tuaolo? Billy Bean? Roy Simmons?

Maybe not. They all remained closeted during their professional sports careers and came out as gay only in retirement, to little fanfare. But they can remind us how much things have changed.

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Roy Simmons’ memoir of his life “in the NFL Closet”

Simmons, who spent four years in the NFL, died last week at 57. A few days later, the NBA’s Jason Collins played for the Nets in his first game since coming out last year; and openly gay prospect Michael Sam performed in the NFL Combine. (It’s worth noting that Sam and Collins each made the cover of Sports Illustrated after coming out; the other three, not even close.) Some people applaud, some shrug, some remain hostile.

Below is an edited version of a column I wrote for ajc.com, the website of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, in 2002. I’m sharing it because of how it contrasts with what we’re seeing now. We used to wait for “the gay Jackie Robinson.” Was that too much to ask? Are we seeing that sometimes, heroic goals are accomplished by multiple individuals over time, building on the steps of the others? That history can come in trickles, and narratives unfold in lurches rather than bounds?

Gay Ex-Falcon Comes Out — But is He Famous Enough to Change Anything?

Bryant Gumbel let me down.

For at least a week, Gumbel has been promoting his HBO show’s “coming out” interview next Tuesday with a former NFL player. Speculation sprouted all over Internet chat rooms and even in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, where rumors had been whispered about a former Viking. Who would it be?

Gay folks are always hoping celebrities will come out of the closet publicly. We get downright giddy about a glamorous, male athlete doing so because — well, because it’s never really happened before. And because big-time sports appears so homophobic. And because it would break a lot of stereotypes about masculinity and homosexuality. And because, admit it, it’s sexy and empowering to think about.

On Thursday, we learned the player’s identity: Esera Tuaolo, a nine-year defensive lineman who played the Super Bowl season with the Falcons in 1998 and otherwise played outside the limelight.

Tuaolo, 34, said players routinely told gay jokes in the locker room. “They made me go further and further into depression, further and further into shame,” he said. He even considered suicide.

A former teammate, Shannon Sharpe, says on the show that Tuaolo would’ve been “eaten alive” and “hated” if he’d come out while playing.

Pro athletics remains one of the worst scenes for gay men, who still fight stereotypes about being effeminate, ineffectual and predatory.

But think about how great an athlete must be to make it to the NFL, regardless of how long he stays there or how successful he becomes. How manly? Clearly, Tuaolo had the right stuff. But he says he cut short his career largely because of the stress over staying hidden.

I was hoping Gumbel’s interview would describe a happy life in sports — the fun of being young and wealthy and sought after; a supportive, if discreet, group of other gay athletes and straight friends on the team and in management. Maybe even acknowledgement of deciding to stay closeted at work but being able to find happiness in spite of it.

I expect Tuaolo’s coming out will nudge everybody along just a little bit more.


 

RELATED: College Football Star Michael Sam Comes Out

RELATED: Husband of gay veteran gets military ID card

RELATED: In Mississippi, ‘We Don’t Discriminate’

Michael Sam’s Coming Out: 10 Key Points of the Story

Missouri football star Michael Sam came out as gay yesterday, confirming for the world what friends, family and an ever-growing number of reporters already knew. Since he’s likely to be drafted into the NFL this year (or, at least, he was), Sam could soon become the first openly gay player ever in the NFL — or, really, even in any of the major American team sports. It’s a great story, for lots of reasons. Here are a few.

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Yep, he’s gay: Missouri football star Mike Sam

1. It broke online, at least it did for me. I found out about it on Twitter. I’d never heard of Sam. By the time I Googled him, the story had blown up, and I watched the ESPN interview at least an hour before it aired on TV.

2. He’s young, Part 1. A handful of former pro athletes in the Big Four (baseball, football, basketball, hockey) have come out – after their careers were over. Sam’s hasn’t even started yet.

3. He’s young, Part 2. Polls have shown for years that anti-gay bias persists largely along generational lines. To state it broadly, younger folks are far less likely to care if someone’s gay than their grandparents or even parents.

4. Team unity. When Sam came out to his University of Missouri teammates before the last season started, they all stood behind him throughout a wildly successful year. But some older folks inside the NFL fretted to si.com (which shamefully let them go unnamed) that the league still “isn’t ready.”

5. He’s a star, a top NFL draft prospect —  SEC defensive player of the year. ‘Nuff said.

6. He’s masculine — SEC defensive player of the year. ‘Nuff said

7. He seems like a nice kid. No one’s going to call him a thug, that’s for sure.

8. He clearly got some good media coaching but still came off authentic with ESPN’s Chris Connelly.

9. The Putin Factor. Nice that this happened during anti-gay Russia’s Olympics.

10. The “Duh” Factor. There have always been gays in sports, even the NFL. Some of them have started coming out recently, notably NBA journeyman Jason Collins last year, who wasn’t picked up for this season. Whatever happens next with Sam, he – and his great many supporters – have pushed the story forward, the only direction it can go. And so far, the reaction has been mostly supportive or muted.


RELATED: Husband of gay veteran gets military ID card

RELATED: In Mississippi, ‘We Don’t Discriminate’

RELATED: Gay dads, smart kid

Sweetening the Bet with Chocolate “Not Too Sweet”

The story of Kathy Wiley’s chocolate company, San Francisco-based Poco Dolce, just got even sweeter. After the 49ers’ loss Sunday in the NFC Championship Game, San Francisco’s mayor is sending Poco Dolce treats to his Seattle counterpart, part of a charitable bet the two made before the Seahawks won a ticket to the Super Bowl.

Poco Dolce Bittersweet Chocolate Tiles, San Francisco, chocolate, poco dolce, 49ers, seattle, seahawks, kathy wiley, dogpatch, mayor ed lee, mayor ed murray, NFC Championship game, NFL playoff

Poco Dolce Bittersweet Chocolate Tiles

The bet brought attention to Poco Dolce, and Wiley is building on it through her website and Facebook and Twitter accounts. “This pushed us up on the map. It’s given us national press. And we have blown it up on social media,” Wiley says. “I’ve got posts from all my friends and some of my customers. Even from Seattle. Someone wrote they’re excited that their mayor gets to try Poco Dolce.”

The handmade, high-end bittersweet chocolates include signature tiles that are available in distinctive flavors (including Aztec chile, sesame toffee) and non-dairy bars blended with olive oil, peanut butter and other elements – all topped with sprinkles of sea salt. They’re sold online and through select retailers across the country. (There’s a list on the website.)

Wiley chose the name because “poco dolce” means “not too sweet” in Italian. She started the company in 2003 and now has 10 full-time employees. Mayor Ed Lee and some of his staff members are set for a tour of her 6,000-square-foot production kitchen next week.

“There’s plenty of chocolate produced in San Francisco, so it’s definitely an honor to be chosen,” says Wiley, who got caught up in the 49ers excitement but missed the game because she was working a trade show all day Sunday. “We had the proclamation at our booth and people were loving it, saying, ‘We’ve gotta try this – you’re in the bet.’ ”

RELATED: Jeni’s Ice Cream opens in Atlanta, plans another location.

RELATED: Richard Blais brings Flip Burger to the neighborhood; everybody wins in Burger Wars.