No one does commercials like Nike. From the Emmy-nominated Colin Kaepernick video to the women-empowering Serena Williams commercial, the billion-dollar corporation has proved time and time again that it not only is king of advertising in the sports world but that it will also fall on the right side of history.
Some of the best commercials Nike has ever produced are the nostalgic ones that take you back to your childhood. Remember when Bo Jackson suiting up for every sport known to man? Or the Michael Vick Experience (which by the way needs to be a real thing)? Or the Mark McGwire baseball one that taught us all that chicks dig the long ball?
One that captivated football fans across the country was the Briscoe High School “Football is Everything” Nike Football spot that debuted in 2006 featuring a star-studded plethora of NFL players, coaches and sportscasters.
Nike Gridiron – Football is Everything – Game Day
It’s game day for the Briscoe High School football team. The commercial starts out with Jimmy Johnson — who coached the Miami Hurricanes to a national championship and the Dallas Cowboys to two Super Bowl wins — as a teacher trying to get the attention of a room full of jocks. Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky” is playing.
Johnson walks through the desks and slaps the shoe of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, who is donning a sweet Nike headband. He paces over to Chicago Bears legend Brian Urlacher, fiddling around with a piece of paper he’s folded up, and asks, “can anyone tell me what happened to Napoleon when he tried to invade Russia?”
The school bell rings and we’re taken to a hallway full of lockers, where Vick is still looking cool as hell strutting through students half his size. San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson and Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu dap each other up. A cheerleader (Jillian Barberie) approaching the football players calls out to Ryon Williams, the fictional character Nike wants us to feel like. We later find out his parents are Deion Sanders and sportscaster Jill Arrington.
Inside the locker room before the game, Briscoe coaches Don Shula, Urban Meyer and Marlin Briscoe — the first black starting NFL quarterback and namesake of the fictional high school — are giving a pre-game pep talk to their football team.
Then: Game time.
Nike does a great job recreating everything you remember about your high school football games. The band, crowd and players all give you that Friday Night Lights feel.
Urlacher crushes a dude. Polamalu tackles the soul out of someone. Matt Leinart — the 2004 Heisman Trophy winner — is Vick’s backup on the team and steadily watches on the sideline. Briscoe High fan Steve Young tells Ryon to keep his eye on the ball.
On the final play, Vick tosses the ball to Tomlinson, who heaves up a deep pass to Ryon for the game-winning touchdown. Then there’s a dramatic slow-motion moment in which everyone waits for gravity to pull the ball down into Ryon’s hands. That’s when we see that Lee Corso is hilariously the school’s mascot.
Everyone goes bonkers, and the “Football is Everything” caption appears. And just like that, the viewers wants a pair of Vick’s sneakers.
Nike’s ad was undoubtedly cool for football fans. I’m not sure about advocating for the whole school-doesn’t-matter-only-football-does part, but it’s a pretty realistic representation of some of the classes high school football players take.
And football is everything? Eh, I’d argue getting a diploma or a degree and being a good human being is more important. Clearly, Nike has pivoted more toward that based on recent commercials and the athletes they’ve signed.
Nike Gridiron – Football is Everything – Two-a-Days
The Briscoe High School “Game Day” commercial was actually a series as part of the 2006 Nike Gridiron advertising campaign. There are three commercials, including a “Two-a-Days” one and a “Heritage” one. Nike also pushed the Briscoe stars in advertisements for major publications like Sports Illustrated, ESPN the Magazine and The Sporting News.
Nike ran a lot of great commercials similar to this one. The “Fate” commercial showing Polamalu and Tomlinson’s dedication to football from children all the way to the NFL will pull your heartstrings. This black-and-white “I Promise” spot captured the essence of high school football pretty well, too, and it did so without using any people.
Say what you want about your favorite fictional high school football team. I’ll take Vick, Urlacher, Tomlinson, Polamalu and everyone else at Briscoe High School over Tim Riggins and the Permian High School Panthers or any other team.