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Super Bowl commercials 2024: Christopher Walken, Dunkin' and Jesus take the wheel

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Super Bowl commercials 2024: Christopher Walken, Dunkin' and Jesus take the wheel

Taylor Swift’s new television special Sunday, aka Super Bowl LVIII, carried live from Las Vegas on CBS and Paramount+, came with a football game attached, a musical production number and a host of comedy sketches masquerading as commercials — and they said variety was dead!

I have been asked here, however, to discuss only the commercials, which are granted a newsworthiness they rarely enjoy elsewhere in television, based entirely on their proximity to this one event, the big money involved and the big stars who pick up big money for a day’s work, if that. Major American celebrities — from Audrey Hepburn and Marlon Brando to Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts — who wouldn’t think of appearing in a domestic TV commercial have for years snuck overseas to get that check, but the Super Bowl provides a certain amount of cache and cover — it’s an event! (Even so, one might point out, these are mostly not superduperstars — many are TV people, but no less familiar or useful for that.) Sports stars (current and retired), cozy with endorsements, seem happy to play along.

Surveys have suggested that something like a quarter of Super Bowl viewers come mainly for the commercials. I admit that I find them more interesting than the game, though I just admit as well that this was a particularly interesting game; still it’s hard to imagine sitting through four hours of football just for the ads when the buzziest ones are already plastered all over the internet, and the ones that aren’t yet will be. I mean, it feels like a poor use of time. That said, the frequency of cutaways could make one feel at times that the game was interrupting the commercials. (That there are those who come only for the halftime show goes without saying, but you can arrive late and leave early for that.) People are funny.

Many of these campaigns, whether as teasers or full-length ads, or lengthier ads than would appear on the actual broadcast, or minus some final tag or punchline held back until Sunday, had been underway online for more than a week; network morning shows gave them “exclusive” premieres, and under the guise of “news” offering advertisements free advertising — which, yes, print media is also happy to provide.

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After an extremely vague tease with Tony Hale, a spot starring Beyoncé premiered in the third quarter of the game, with the singer attempting to “break Verizon” — by playing the saxophone, opening a lemonade stand running for “Beyoncé of the United States,” and going to space. A second airing suggested new music was coming, later confirmed via Instagram. My takeaway was that I’d like to see her do more comedy.

That the investment was overwhelmingly in comedy is sensible: Funny spots are more likely to be remembered, talked about, reposted and if brevity is the soul of wit, as it certainly is of the modern attention span, repetition is the soul of advertising.

Here is an incomplete accounting of humorous commercials aired during the game.

LL Cool J driving a beer can-shaped train for Coors Light. Martha Stewart, Snoop Dogg and Willie Nelson for BIC Lighters, because weed. Anthony Hopkins delivering a dramatic soliloquy (“To act is to deceive, and to deceive one must forget oneself”) before he puts on the head of Wrex the Dragon, mascot of the Wrexham football club (the other football, the one they play everywhere) in an ad for Stok Cold Brew Coffee. Ken Jeong, out of cryogenic suspension, for Popeyes.

Chris Pratt in a handlebar mustache for Pringles. Eric Andre paired with a creepy little plastic figure, Dr. Umstick, for the Drumstick ice cream cone (the day’s weirdest spot) Self-described “America’s sweetheart” Aubrey Plaza deadpanning through a series of stressful or dramatic situations (child’s party, stuck elevator, alien abduction, professional wrestling, riding a dragon) for Mountain Dew. Zac Braff and Donald Faison back singing and dancing for T-mobile, joined now by Jason Momoa. Dan Levy and Heidi Gardner doing on-the-spot neighborhood research for Homes.com. Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez were back for Dunkin Donuts, with Matt Damon along; they are legitimately big stars, but they’re also down with Dunkin Donuts, so, you know, regular. Actors from “Suits” showed up in a couple of ads (e.l.f. Cosmetics and T-mobile), because that is where we are now.

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An Oreo spot in which important decisions through the ages are made according to whether the “creme” (hydrogenated vegetable oil, high fructose corn syrup, soy lecithin and vanillin, if you’re interested) winds up on the left or right when the cookies are twisted apart. Avoiding controversy, M&M’s posted an ad for peanut butter M&M’s in which diamonds formed from compressed peanut butter, “polished with the sighs of those who almost won a Super Bowl — and Scarlett Johansson” are used to make The Almost Champions Ring of Comfort. Especially wonderful is a Kate McKinnon in a Hellman’s Mayonnaise spot, in which she believes her cat can talk after she takes its “meow” for “mayo;” the cat becomes famous, addresses world leaders and dates and dumps Pete Davidson.

The Uber Eats ad, predicated on the idea that new information pushed out old featured Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer, Posh and Becks, Jelly Roll and Usher, who didn’t remember he was performing the halftime show. Usher also made a cameo appearance at the end of Christopher Walken’s delightful BMW commercial, in which people imitated his way of talking as he went through his day. The tolerant exasperation of his reactions was a highlight of my over-engagement with these commercials.

There were, naturally, a few non-comical ads sprinkled among them. The beautiful Budweiser Clydesdales delivered beer in the snow. A little girl skated on an icy pond as her housebound grandfather watched through a window in a Kia spot. Dove went to bat for girls in athletics. The “Jesus, he gets us” campaign, which debuted last year, returned with a pair of ecumenical, elegant, photo-based spots on a theme of loving one’s neighbor, which is to say, anybody. And Mark Wahlberg promoted Hallow, a Christian/Catholic prayer app.

What can we say about this year’s spots that says anything about the rest of us? That many are for beer, junk food, gambling and television itself, suggests a society desperate to anesthetize itself in a burning world? (Some might argue that the Super Bowl itself represents a misdirection of human energy, a distraction from what really matters — not that you’ll catch me saying that.)

Special musical guest Travis Kelce performed “Viva Las Vegas” in the postgame, while Swift looked on. Earlier he gained 93 yards on nine receptions, also while she looked on.

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Patrick Willis reflects after being voted into Pro Football Hall of Fame: 'No one can take that away from me'

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Patrick Willis reflects after being voted into Pro Football Hall of Fame: 'No one can take that away from me'

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When San Francisco 49ers legend Patrick Willis opened his eyes after his sister, Ernicka, brought him to his front door, his bright smile immediately came to his face. 

Willis stared at Pro Football Hall of Famer and fellow 49ers great Bryant Young, who was donning his gold jacket. 

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As a finalist for the Hall himself, Willis knew exactly what Young, the camera crew and everyone else present meant: He was voted into the Hall of Fame. 

Patrick Willis during Super Bowl LVIII between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers at Allegiant Stadium on Feb. 11, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Perry Knotts/Getty Images)

After the smiles and laughs came the waterworks for Willis, who spoke to Fox News Digital after reflecting on that moment when he learned he was heading to Canton, Ohio. 

“One thing I can say now: To be voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, no one can take that away from me,” Willis said while discussing his love for CoachTube. 

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This was the third year Willis became a finalist, and after missing out twice, the thought naturally creeps in the brain: Is what I did good enough? 

HALL OF FAME CANDIDATE PATRICK WILLIS TALKS STEPPING AWAY FROM NFL IN HIS PRIME, WOULD DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN

Willis knows he was a great player during his career from 2007 as the 11th overall pick out of Ole Miss to San Fran. But he played eight seasons, ending his career surprisingly after the 2014 campaign. 

He no longer needs to think about the what-ifs.

“We always used to say at the end of the year when you look up on the stat sheet and see how many sacks you have, or how many interceptions, or how many tackles, they don’t recall how you got them,” Willis explained. “They just see you got them. It’s kinda what this feels like to me now that I don’t have that feeling like, ‘Man, what else did I have to prove?’”

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Willis told Fox News Digital prior to being voted into the Hall that he always played the game wanting “to be one of them,” referring to the legends that are forever enshrined in Canton with their gold busts. 

“If one person could remember me, that would be awesome. It seems like a little bit more than one is remembering, so I’m grateful for that,” he said. 

But walking away from the game at 30 years old was no easy task for Willis. He knew it was time, especially after playing just six games during the regular season in his final year. 

Patrick Willis on field

Walking away from the game at 30 years old was no easy task for Patrick Willis. (Perry Knotts/Getty Images)

As he looks back, there’s still no regret. 

“At the end of the day, for what it’s worth, you can always say what if, or you should have,” he explained. “But I was blessed to play the time I was given, and the results were what they were, and I’ll say judge me off those and not by what you think I could’ve done. If you’re going off those numbers, perhaps they’re good enough. 

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“At the end of the day, it’s up to those who are voting.”

The voters believes the 950 combined tackles, 733 of which were solo, 20.5 sacks, 16 forced fumbles and eight interceptions, two of which resulted in pick-sixes, were enough.

Willis admitted, “I don’t know what I’m going to say, or how I’m going to say it,” when he walks up on that podium at Hall of Fame Stadium later this year. He’s sure the emotions will be there, too. 

Patrick Willis looks on field

Patrick Willis of the 49ers on the sideline against the Dallas Cowboys at Candlestick Park on Sept. 18, 2011, in San Francisco. (Tom Hauck/Getty Images)

But like Willis said, no matter what you may think about him walking away early in his career, he did enough to earn eternal greatness. 

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LeBron James rallies Lakers from 21 down in the fourth to stun the Clippers

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LeBron James rallies Lakers from 21 down in the fourth to stun the Clippers

LeBron James’ tongue wagged after he glided from right to left to bank in a runner off one foot. He shook his head after he drained another three-point shot.

And in the end, James lifted two hands in the air in celebration.

“He,” D’Angelo Russell said “did him.”

In the final Hallway Series showdown between the Lakers and the Clippers — unless the Crypto.com Arena co-tenants meet in the playoffs — the NBA’s all-time leading scorer ensured the meeting wouldn’t be forgettable

Despite the Lakers trailing by 21 in the fourth quarter, James brought them all the way back, and when they needed to get one last stop to ensure the win, James was there to meet the challenge.

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Kawhi Leonard’s baseline jumper missed short with James’ hand in his face, the Lakers winning 116-112 on Wednesday night after it looked like a blowout loss was on the way.

Ten seasons ago, the Clippers and their coach at the time, Doc Rivers, hatched a plan to cover the Lakers’ championship banners to make the arena they share feel more like their home. Wednesday, one of those banners read “Give no quarter.”

No matter. James was there to take the fourth.

He scored 19 of his 34 points in the quarter while dishing out four late assists, the Lakers getting huge shots from Rui Hachimura and Russell as they walloped the Clippers 39-16 in the final frame.

James scored or assisted on 11 of the 13 Lakers field goals in the fourth to wrap the Hallway Series era.

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“Sicko mode,” Anthony Davis said.

In the second half, James guarded Leonard – the second-straight game where the Lakers adjusted by using him as a defender.

“Just got to do what I gotta do,” James said. “If I’m in a lineup, if I’m on the floor, I got to make plays. Sometimes I got to make even more plays. And tonight was one of those moments where I had to make even more plays in order for us to even get back into the game and then ultimately win the game.”

Before the game, It felt like there would be some kind of resolution Wednesday.

Clippers coach Tyronn Lue was frustrated, the team having lost two of three since the All-Star break. The Clippers had pushed to the top of the Western Conference earlier in the month, looking like one of the league’s title contenders.

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But losses to the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Sacramento Kings underscored slippage in execution and maybe some waning attention.

LeBron James beats Terance Mann for a basket in the second quarter.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Lakers coach Darvin Ham also was frustrated, the team also having lost two of three since the break.

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A run to end the first half of the season had created momentum, the team looking like a threat to make the playoff field and avoid the play-in tournament. But losses to the Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns, plus a sloppy win against lowly San Antonio had the team trying to recapture rhythm.

The Clippers were looking to prove that their brief malaise was the kind of thing that happens to title teams — a let-up before refocusing for the final stretch.

And the Lakers?

“We needed one of these,” Ham said.

The Clippers, without All-Star forward Paul George and center Ivica Zubac, made a statement early, Terance Mann slamming a dunk over Davis in the opening minutes. And they reaffirmed it later, Kawhi Leonard walking into a three to extinguish a brief Lakers run in the second half.

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But there was no slowing James, not as he ensured the Lakers won the season series with the Clippers for the first time since 2012.

Rui Hachimura of the Lakers dunks over Terance Mann.

Rui Hachimura of the Lakers dunks over Terance Mann.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The Clippers’ defense never fully activated, and the Lakers shot better than 50% for most of the game. But the stops for the Lakers never materialized, the Clippers hitting shots too often and too easily, Norman Powell ending the third with a buzzer-beating three in front of Austin Reaves, who was helpless to do anything other than roll his eyes in frustration.

But in the fourth, James was otherworldly — the Lakers winning the potential final fight as the road team in their building.

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“In the second half we got up and then we turned the basketball over, didn’t get back in transition, and then of course LeBron got it going and then offensively we weren’t very organized,” Lue said. “We didn’t get organized, we didn’t do things we were supposed to do and so I take full responsibility for that. Just making sure we’re organized, knowing what we’re supposed to do. And like I said, then LeBron exploded.”

James’ fourth quarter began with him three threes in four Lakers’ possessions, quickly flipping the blowout into a competitive game. And then as the Clippers’ began to adjust, he picked apart the defense, opening the door for Hachimura and Russell to finish the game off.

“He had to take the cape, tuck it under his seat on the bench, I guess. It was time for him to whip it out. He definitely did that, put the cape on, and just got aggressive and got into good rhythm,” Ham said. “He’s been shooting the ball extremely well this whole entire season. And that was just another case of it. Once he got in rhythm and with his playmaking skills, he sets the tone with his shooting and going downhill. But then once they start scheming and trying to hit double team late, he was able to pick them apart with the pass and that’s just who he is.”

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Woman files lawsuit claiming Vikings star Justin Jefferson is father of her child, encouraged abortion

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Woman files lawsuit claiming Vikings star Justin Jefferson is father of her child, encouraged abortion

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Justin Jefferson’s personal life has gone public as the Minnesota Vikings star receiver is being accused of fathering a child while also encouraging the woman to abort her pregnancy, per the Daily Mail.

A lawsuit issued in Essex County, New Jersey, family court on Jan. 19 by Andrea Galea, who claims she was romantically involved with Jefferson during their days at LSU before rekindling their relationship in April 2023, says she had no choice but to file the suit after the All-Pro failed to support her child.

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Galea, a licensed attorney, is seeking a paternity test from Jefferson as well as financial support and health coverage. 

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports)

Stella Anastasia was born on Dec. 21, 2023, but Galea says Jefferson, 24, has not financially supported her and refused to acknowledge himself as her father.

Galea also says Jefferson “pressured” her to get an abortion. After Galea refused, Jefferson “began acting towards her with great insensitivity and extreme cruelty.”

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“The Defendant blocked the Plaintiff from communicating with him, and coldly told her to ‘[T]alk to me when the legal stuff come up,” Galea’s lawsuit states, per the Daily Mail.

DOLPHINS’ TYREEK HILL SUED BY INFLUENCER CLAIMING HE BROKE HER LEG AFTER BEING ‘HUMILATED’ IN FOOTBALL DRILLS

Jefferson filed a countersuit on Jan. 26, demanding an injunction against Galea to prevent her from sharing information about the child. Jefferson also asked for a paternity test. 

In the countersuit, Jefferson claims Galea used the child’s birth as well as allegations against him to promote herself online. 

“Defendant [Galea] has a substantial presence and following on various social media platforms and apparently has strategically positioned herself over the last several years to become an ‘online influencer,’” Jefferson’s countersuit reads. 

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“So are you okay with getting this [situated,” Jefferson wrote in a text message to Galea, per a screenshot the Daily Mail posted. 

“U wanted the kid you can take care of it,” he wrote in another message. “I tried to tell u this was how it was going to go u didn’t believe me.”

Justin Jefferson warms up before an NFL game

Justin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings warms up before the game against the Raiders at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on December 10, 2023. (Ian Maule/Getty Images)

Jefferson added that Galea continued “annoying” him about the child, resulting in him changing his phone number. There was also another text message that had Jefferson suggesting Galea take a Plan B. 

“The more u wait the hard the situation will be that’s why I wanted to get you the planB [because] I didn’t want to be in this situation but it’s totally my fault I shouldn’t have done it in the first place,” Jefferson texted Galea.

“Justin I took the plan b though it was just too late for it to be effective. Sometimes depending on the cycle unless you take it within like 2 hours it can be too late,” she responded. “… and two people are always at fault in this. Personally I’ve never faced a situation like this…’”

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Jefferson is set to play the final year of his rookie contract after the Vikings picked up his fifth-year option that’s worth $19.743 for the 2024 season. 

Justin Jefferson before the Giants game

Justin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings warms up against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 24, 2022, in Minneapolis. (Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

As one of the top receivers in the NFL today, Jefferson is expected to receive a massive payday in the form of a new contract either this season with the Vikings or sometime in free agency in 2025.

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