Rob Mendez, a high-school football coach born without arms or legs, sits tall in his wheelchair by a case packed with trophies, chanting "We ready" to the tune of the classic sports-taunt anthem "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye."
That's just one stirring image among many in an intense minute-long film from 72andSunny that kicks off the National Football League's 100th season. The chant runs through the spot, across footage from locker rooms, schools and playing fields, as NFL stars, members of the Los Angeles Bobcats all-women's team, and ardent fans prep for action.
Fusing the pro experience with fandom, the spot reminds us that the NFL, and indeed all big-time leagues, can transcend the spectacle of elite athletes playing at the highest level. The face-painted, jersey-draped, tattooed passion of true fans runs deep. It molds their personalities and provides a wellspring of inspiration. Conversely, fans' thundering adoration propels gridiron heroes to new heights and amplifies the glory of the game.
72andSunny says it "wants people to experience the untapped love people feel for the NFL. We want them to feel all the emotions being stirred up on screen, conjured up through the chant."
Directed in heart-pounding style by Stuart McIntyre via Somesuch, "We Ready," which broke Thursday night, takes cues from this much-viewed YouTube video of the Ridgeway High School football team in Memphis, Tenn., psyching themselves up before a game.
"It helped us remember the magnetizing power of football, the competitive nature, the tribal brotherhood and the nostalgia," Garrett Radford, a writer at 72andSunny, tells Muse. "In just a few words, the chant summarizes what football is about. So when we thought about making a spot to kick off the 100th season of the NFL, we knew we had to use it."
Filming took place in Southern California and Ohio, at locations designed that show how football touches people's lives. The sight of Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins suspended upside-down in a rig catching passes, and Carolina Panthers' running back Christian McCaffrey sprinting underwater while hauling a heavily weighted disc, are among the visual highlights.
In fact, McCaffrey's effort dazzled the crew. Radford relates this story:
"We had a professional underwater crew consisting of divers, cameramen and safety guys who had years of experience doing underwater stunts. When McCaffrey showed up, the stuntman walked him through what to do and how to do it—how to hold his breath, equalize underwater, and run with the [weighted] plate. We didn't know what to expect, or how hard it would be to do. Sure enough, McCaffrey gets in, and in one massive breath takes the weight to the bottom, and runs over halfway across the entire pool! We were expecting him to give us maybe three or four steps, not 20! He actually ran out of the camera frame because we were not expecting him to go so far. Then he came up and did it three more times so we could capture it multiple ways."
Dude's ready, all right.
Appearing in the spot:
• New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara
• Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson
• Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey
• Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins
• Cleveland Brown wide receiver Jarvis Landry
• Washington Redskins safety Landon Collins
• New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard
• Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley
• The Los Angeles Bobcats (all-female team)
• Rob Mendez, inspirational coach and Winner of 2019 ESPY Jimmy V. Award for Perseverance
• NFL Fans of teams including the Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers, Kansas City Chiefs and New York Jets
Client: The National Football League
Agency: 72andSunny Los Angeles
Director: Stuart McIntyre
Editing: Cabin Editorial
Finishing: Shape + Light
Sound Design: Human // Lime