Why Super Bowl Ads Are Getting Worse


Credit: Volkswagen


People are searching for reasons to explain the trend of increasingly boring Super Bowl ads. Some think it’s the lack of the surprise factor. After all, many of these commercials are available online, sometimes weeks or months ahead of the big game.

Not sure I’m buying that explanation. One of my favorite ads of all time is the one starring the little kid in the Darth Vader get-up and the dad with the key-fob car starter. I must have seen that spot 100 times and it still makes me laugh.

Want to know why the ads are getting worse? Here’s an answer: they’re ill-conceived and poorly written.

I’m not sure the correct people are creating and approving these ads. For instance, what’s the target demo for (One study I read said 51% of apartment dwellers are under 30 and 74% are under 44.) And the ad featured 63-year-old actor Jeff Goldblum and the theme from a sitcom that was launched in 1975?

And, oh yeah, it wasn’t compelling. Not even a cameo from fading hip hopper Lil Wayne could save the poor concept from finishing 29th on USA Today’s Ad Meter rankings for Super Bowl 50 spots. And, by the way, the only factor that prevented it from ending up far lower was its top rating with 65+ viewers, who scored it WAY higher than younger demos.

Take the “PuppyMonkeyBaby” spot. Please. That was the odd ad for which Mountain Dew shelled out $5 million per play in Super Bowl 50 to push its KickStart line of energy drinks.

The spot ranked 55th out of 63 commercials that aired in the 2016 Super Bowl. It scored low on Ad Meter with all age groups, but the lowest numbers it received was from 21-34 year-olds. PuppyMonkeyBabyBust.

Want more proof that it’s the writing and concepts that are failing? How about the ad for Squarespace? It featured one of this era’s funniest and hippest comedy duos, Key and Peele, but it wasn’t funny.

What were the folks from Squarespace thinking? That Key and Peele’s mere presence would be enough? That their cachet with young hipsters would drive business their way? Not if the spot’s not funny.

All the star power in the world can’t save a bad concept and poor writing. Just ask the creators of movie bombs like Ishtar, which starred Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty slogging their way through scene after ugly scene on the way to box office disaster.

The Key and Peele spot for Squarespace, a great company which offers sharp website designs, missed by a fraction of a point the dubious distinction of landing in the Bottom 5 on the Ad Meter rankings.

Who’s in charge of these ad campaigns? The same NFL player personnel experts who decide that Johnny Manziel would be a wise draft choice?

Dave Coombs needs writers for his lousy weekday morning radio show on 100.7 FM WUTQ.

Choosing the Right Quarterback


There are going to be a LOT of questions.

And the biggest question hanging over the head of Cameron Jerrell Newton has nothing to do with his ample physical attributes. It concerns his character.

After the Carolina Panthers’ quarterback threw hissy fits on the field and conducted a sullen post-game press conference off it following Super Bowl 50, his team’s coaches, administrators, and teammates have to be wondering if he’s the right guy for the job.

Some of them will issue words of support for Newton. After all, he led them to a 17-2 record. He won league MVP honors. The team has invested over $100 million in its star. And the positive talk is already unfolding, even as Newton defends his decision to walk out on reporters.

Cam’s our guy.

He’ll learn from this and come back stronger.

We have full faith in our quarterback.

What else are they going to say?

Of course they’re all harboring far different thoughts. They’re mulling the same things being considered of Robert Griffin III or Jay Cutler or Johnny Manziel, and how their considerable physical abilities, leadership and performance devolved into failure and weakness.

Are we looking at the right guy for the job?

The side-by-side snapshot at the top of this blog offers clues. It captures two men at two very similar moments in time.

On the right, Peyton Manning, fresh off an embarrassing quarterback rating of 24.4 and a 43-8 thrashing in Super Bowl 48. In the midst of what must be abject despair over an incredibly disappointing result, Manning looked presentable, and patiently answered questions from the media without a single hint of attitude. You cynics can go check the videotape.

On the left there’s Newton, hiding under a hoodie and wearing the league’s logo on his sleeve, after a rating of 55.4 and a 14-point loss in Super Bowl 50, moments before walking out in the middle of the post-game interview in which he delivered one-word answers. We’ve all seen that tape.

Who do you want leading your team?

The position of quarterback is so crucial. It must be agonizing as an NFL front office person, or player, or fan to come to the realization that your team doesn’t have the right guy. First, there’s the promise of Draft Day. Then, that one big pick eventually transitions into the patient process of either building toward championships…or continually falling short.

The middle of that process is just as important as the big decision on Draft Day. That’s where the Carolina Panthers are right now. In the middle. Next season will be Newton’s sixth pro year. It’s not too late for Newton to change his behavior. Or for the Panthers to change leaders.

You could argue that a more savvy customer under center this past Sunday might have secured a title for Carolina–or could do it next year if Newton doesn’t mature.

Ability is important, of course, but character is just as essential. For every Troy Aikman, John Elway or Joe Montana, there are dozens of Ryan Leafs, Jeff Georges and Matt Leinarts.

Maybe NFL personnel directors need to start paying as close attention to character as they do to raw skills. Maybe teams need to empower different people to make these big choices. Look outside the box. Hire body language experts, or FBI examiners, or really perceptive moms to ask tough questions and discern hard truths about these potential booms and busts.

Dave Coombs is still attempting to fulfill his radio potential as a morning host for 100.7 FM WUTQ.

Are Sports Flirting with Disaster?


(Credit: Ken Blaze, USA Today)

The contusion LeBron James suffered when he careened head-first into a cameraman during Game 4 of the NBA Finals was totally preventable. And this kind of incident will happen again unless the league takes action.

The proximity of photographers and fans to the courts of the NBA, and to the multi-million-dollar athletes is frighteningly close. But the likelihood of NBA teams giving up some of that valuable real estate around the basket in the name of safety is about the same as the NFL enacting any real changes to its violent and exciting cash cow that wrecks players’ brains forever.

There’s a better chance of Caitlyn Jenner switching back to Bruce.

NBA franchises (and college basketball teams) make a LOT of money from the proceeds of these courtside seats. They’d rather roll the dice and risk a serious injury than forfeit some precious revenue. But something has to give. And it may take the former to bring about the latter.

Suppose James’ injury had been worse. Maybe a concussion to the sport’s most important player resulting in his absence from the rest of this championship series? Would that be enough to force a change in policy? Ask the networks how much their ratings and revenue have suffered without golf’s biggest star prowling the fairways and in contention on the weekends.

Our society loves watching stars. Would it take losing one of them for everyone to wake up and implement the proper changes to ensure player safety and preserve the ultimate bottom line?

20th century businessman and humorist Arnold Glasow had a great quote that applies here:

“One of the tests of leadership is to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency.”

It shouldn’t take a genius to spot this potential disaster looming and head it off at the pass. Are you listening, NBA commissioner Adam Silver?

And we may as well add Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, who had to deal recently with the scary situation of the fan in Boston getting struck by a splintered bat. And NHL boss Gary Bettman, who should be studying ways to make hockey’s dasher boards safer for collisions. And the NFL’s Roger Goodell…everyone knows his challenges.

You don’t need to watch an installment of Sport Science on ESPN to realize athletes are so much faster and stronger and the games they play exert so much greater force on objects like bats and balls and bodies, that the dangers have dramatically increased. Especially when one of the other basic truths in sports is the concept of getting fans closer to the action, so they can maximize their in-game experience.

That equation some day is going to have a major cost.

Give up one row of seats and push the cameras back a few more feet. Experiment with special padding. Consider additional glass or net safety partitions between players and fans. Or, just wait for an emergency…and then act.

Dave Coombs is a longtime morning radio host and sports fan.

Just Like Everyone Else?


Brittney Griner (above left) has unusual basketball and athletic skills, which separate her not only from mere mortal athletes, but also elevate her above her professional peers. When it comes to personal relationships, however, she’s just like the rest of us–facing challenges every day.

The 6’8″, 207-pound WNBA star and her 6’3″, 170-pound lover Glory Johnson (above right, also a WNBA player on a different team) have had quite a spring.

Griner on Friday applied for an annulment of their recent marriage. In late April they were arrested for domestic violence, then they purchased a house together, got married, announced a pregnancy, and filed for divorced…all within 6 weeks! That’s a lifetime’s worth of big events, unless you’re a Kardashian.

Arrest? Marriage? Pregnancy? Annulment? God only knows what words we’ll read next in association with these two 25-year-old kids? Sex change? Hobbling? Cannibalism? Reality Show?

And if we can’t have a full run of Keeping Up with Griner & Glory, maybe we can at least get them together on a special episode of Family Feud.

The tribulations and challenges of this couple (and of Caitlyn Jenner) should prove that members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual communities deserve the same rights and considerations as the rest of society. We all bleed and hurt equally.

Another fascinating aspect to this drama will be the reception these players receive in WNBA arenas around the country. The 2015 season is 11 games in. Glory Johnson will miss the whole schedule in order to tend to her pregnancy.

Brittney Griner has yet to play a game this season for the Phoenix Mercury. She’s serving a seven-game league suspension as a result of the domestic violence charges against her. When she does return, will she be subjected to trash-talking from opposing fans, brandishing creative signs and shouting insults?

You know that would happen at stadiums featuring male athletes in similar circumstances. On one level, that fan behavior, which is such a typical occurrence in the NFL or NCAA basketball, would signal true acceptance of the WNBA and its players into the normal landscape of other more mainstream sports.

If the trash-talk doesn’t arise in response to the Griner-Johnson story, the generally more supportive crowds at WNBA games could end up teaching everyone about tolerance and acceptance.

Griner’s first game of 2015 could be Saturday, June 27th, against the Minnesota Lynx at the Target Center in Minneapolis.

What do YOU think will happen when Brittney Griner returns to action on the court? Do she and Glory Johnson have a chance to make it as a couple? And (see pictures at the top of the page) why are so many WNBA teams sponsored by casinos?

Dave Coombs is a longtime morning radio host who asks WAY too many questions.

FIFA’s Got Balls


FIFA’s got balls. And Roger Goodell and his NFL cronies are probably breathing a big sigh of relief. Football is out of the crosshairs for once and fútbol is in trouble. Something’s rotten in international soccer’s governing body.

FIFA is under investigation for bribery, fraud, racketeering, money laundering…and maybe for poisoning blues legend B.B. King.

Our first clue something was really wrong should have been FIFA’s puzzling presentation of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments to Russia and Qatar. The former is run by a shirtless maniac and the latter doesn’t even know how to pronounce its name properly.

Sounds like an ace hurler describing one of his pitches or Rob Lowe as a movie bad guy, giving some horrible, misogynistic directive to one of his henchmen. For maximum positive effect, Qatar really should be pronounced kuh-TAR. It sounds way more exotic and impressive that way, and would lure a far greater number of tourists.

Besides the fact that it’s like 197 degrees in Qatar and the World Cup games will have to be played at midnight in front of large groups of volunteers waving giant palm fronds.

Our second clue something is foul with FIFA is the movie about its origins that’s being re-released soon.


The movie is disturbing on SO many levels.

A. As TV host John Oliver astutely pointed out, “Who makes a sports film where the heroes are the executives?”

B. Sam Neill and Tim Roth are actually good actors. What are THEY doing here?

C. Gerard Depardieu has grown as big as a planet.

If the Fédération Internationale de Football Association really wanted us to like them and avoid controversy, they should have awarded those upcoming World Cups to countries not plotting to obliterate us with nuclear weapons or ones whose oppressive climates won’t kill the players and fans. And maybe they shouldn’t have perpetrated all these crimes.

As for the ongoing investigation into widespread corruption at FIFA, there’s another movie in the works that should settle the whole thing once and for all:

Get your tickets now.

Dave Coombs is a longtime morning radio host and one-time pro soccer player.

A Few (Not So) Good Men


Those darned New England Patriots went from righteous indignation to resignation awfully fast. The NFL team’s owner Robert Kraft caved on the whole DeflateGate thing.

This occurred after he had written a 20,000-word diatribe proclaiming his team’s innocence and railing against the injustice of the league’s decision to punish his Pats. It occurred after he publicly defended his coach, Bill Belichick, and after he demanded apologies from the media to his star quarterback, Tom Brady.

The reaction from Kraft, the acceptance of the penalties, the 180-degree turnaround, indicates one of a few different potential truths in this matter:

A. There were “considerations” extended to the Patriots by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. You know: Bob, we’d really appreciate it if you would acquiesce on this one. I promise we’ll help you out down the road in the future  Here’s a little something, you know, for the effort.

B. Kraft’s decision to forego an appeal wasn’t genuine, but just a gesture for public display. After all, his statement that he would accept the league’s decision did include the word “reluctantly.”

C. Kraft realized his team was wrong.

Rather than be lumped in with all the other sports cheaters who’ve made ugly denials to the end, he chose to wave the white flag. Alex Rodriguez, Roger Clemens, Pete Rose, Lance Armstrong, Rafael Palmeiro–all these guys looked so bad for so long. Maybe Kraft realized that this “rhetoric” was unbecoming of his proud organization.

He seems like a reasonable guy. So, let’s go with the latter. And let’s add a little wrinkle. Maybe Kraft came by some information that won’t be publicized. Maybe he had a private conversation with one of the particulars. Maybe he sat down with Tom Brady and pushed him for answers. Maybe it went something like this:

Maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Of course, we do know Brady never performs very well when pressured.

In any case, the final chapter of this saga may linger…until Brady’s personal appeal plays out. And if that doesn’t materialize, maybe this is the end of the story, and we’ll all have an idea of whether A, B or C above was closer to the truth.

Dave Coombs is a longtime morning radio host and conspiracy theorist.

Patriots’ Memework


Not sure which is the more foolish and irresponsible expenditure in recent sports headlines. Jets fans buying electronic billboards (above) to punk Tom Brady. Or Patriots fans chipping in to cover the team’s $1 million fine levied by the NFL. No wonder they’re called Chowderheads.

The idea that anyone is incensed about poor Tom Brady or the Patriots getting unfairly screwed is ridiculous. The franchise is worth over $2 billion and Brady’s a big boy. He cheated. He got caught.

Let the memes begin:

Tom Brady-Shawshank

Dave Coombs is a longtime morning radio host and big “Shawshank Redemption” fan.

There’s No Such Thing As a Small Rule

Tom Brady-bookYogi_Berra_1956

Sports icons Tom Brady and Yogi Berra are in the headlines, the former for his suspension by the NFL and the latter for his amazing longevity. The two stars have a lot in common, and some distinct differences, especially where it counts.

Berra turns 90 today. He’s a beauty, who coined phrases like “It ain’t over till it’s over.” At just 5’7″ he won three league MVP awards and 10 World Series titles, and hit 358 home runs. By some measures, the greatest catcher in baseball history, he was a physical overachiever if there ever was one.

Brady will be 38 in August. With three Super Bowl MVPs, he’s arguably the best quarterback ever, and also a credit to overachievers and strivers everywhere, just like Yogi. In the 2000 NFL Draft, 198 players were picked before Brady, including six quarterbacks–one of whom was the legendary Spergon Wynn.

(Cleveland chose Wynn, who threw one touchdown pass and seven interceptions in a 10-game NFL career, which helps explain why the Browns have never played in a Super Bowl.)

Tom has the supermodel wife, Yogi’s 65-year marriage to the lovely Carmen WAS a model for all of us to admire and emulate.

Which brings us to the fork in the road between the two sports stars. And, as Yogi famously said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” This fork is the metaphorical dividing line between dishonesty and integrity.

While we don’t know for sure that Yogi Berra never cheated, never bent the rules, never scuffed a ball on a belt buckle to aid a pitcher, never took liberties with the game, his legacy seems pretty pure…at least compared to what we DO know about Brady. The quarterback of the Patriots helped illegally doctor footballs to gain an advantage for his team.

For those of you who say Deflategate is no big deal, for those who argue the punishment leveled against Brady and the Pats is unwarranted, you’re wrong. Don’t bother HAVING a rule and implementing it, if an infraction of it seems “minor” in the grand scheme of things. No one would disagree that the NFL needs to pay more attention to policing the abusers it employs. But the smaller stuff is also important to overall integrity.

And the bottom line for Brady comes in the form of a tweet from Lindsay Berra, who quoted her famous grandpa just a few months ago:

Berra tweet

No surprise. Yogi can still hit.

Dave Coombs is a longtime morning radio host. He’s on Twitter @TheDaveLength.

The Non-Guinness Book of NFL Records

Mike Wallace Danny Shelton2

NFL wide receiver Mike Wallace (above left) this week stated that he’s the fastest player in football. No argument from Mayberry RFD’s resident deputy Barney Fife, despite his best efforts to obtain evidence:

If the claim of a 4.21 40-yard dash by the Vikings’ wideout is legit, then he is football’s fastest. And why not? His actual first name is Burnell.

We’ll get further proof August 9th when Wallace’s current team from Minnesota plays his former team from Pittsburgh in the annual Hall of Fame Game. Meantime, let’s reveal the unofficial list of other NFL superlatives.

The anti-Wallace, Cleveland nose tackle Danny Shelton (above right), registered a 5.64 in the 40-yard (let’s not call it a dash) crawl.

Tampa Bay’s 6’9″ Demar Dotson. He plays offensive tackle for the Bucs. And designated field goal swatter if they know what’s good for them.

Look down there: it’s Jaquizz Rodgers of the Bears and Philly’s Darren Sproles, who both stand 5’6″ and tower over free agent back Trindon Holliday, who is 5’5″. About the same size as my high school history teacher Wallace McDonald, who wore kilts to class and smelled like he bathed in Old Spice cologne.


Gronk-2015 Derby

(Credit: Getty Images)

Gronk. On the right, next to Tom Brady. At the 2015 Kentucky Derby. Enough said.

That tremor you feel is Jets’ nose tackle T.J. Barnes, whose official weight last season was 364. And he wears the biggest number (99) you’re allowed to have.

According to the Wonderlic test, which measures intelligence, it’s Jets’ quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who scored a 48 out of 50. If he’s REALLY smart, he’ll get his heavy teammate Barnes to lose a little weight.

This was tough, but it’s still Broncos’ quarterback Peyton Manning, on the strength of his Nationwide commercials. Chicken Parm you taste so good.

Any player who abuses a smaller, weaker human being or animal. Unfortunately for the NFL, the list in this category is way too long.

Thank God Tim Tebow recently rejoined the league in Philadelphia, making this one easy and eliminating tons of boring research.

Any other nominees and/or categories, fire away in the Comments section below.

Dave Coombs is a longtime morning radio personality and NFL fanatic.

In Search of Bill Belichick’s Personality



Today must be a really tough day for Bill Belichick. Not because one of his former players is going to jail for life. Today is tough for Belichick, because it’s his birthday.

The grumpy New England Patriots’ football coach turns 68 today. Imagine his horror. Enduring all the birthday wishes. Trying to squeeze a smile out of his lifeless face. People shaking his hand, for crying out loud!

The whole Aaron Hernandez story must be heart-wrenching for Belichick on some level. A player he drafted, coached and cultivated–guilty of murder. Going to prison for life, without a chance for parole.

Unable to obtain an interview, I had to imagine asking Belichick for his reaction. This is about how it would go:

This is not that much of a stretch. His behavior at these press conferences is bordering on Rain Man-esque.

Supposedly he has attended concerts of Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi, with whom he is friendly. Can anyone confirm this? Did he wear a hoodie? Did he actually MOVE, other than attempting to rhythmically clap his hands to the music?

I’d like to imagine Belichick cutting loose. And there is some hypothetical evidence, but it’s still just rumored. So, it’s kind of like the Loch Ness Monster or Bigfoot. We’d like to believe, but we need some photographic proof or eyewitness accounts.

Bottom line: Mr. Bill needs to get out in public, outside of his natural environment of football. Here are a few suggestions to lighten up his image as he approaches 70:

A heart-to-heart, tell-all interview with Diane Sawyer or Oprah. Or, if that’s too risky, at least with Chris Berman.

He could do a ground-breaking turn on Dancing with the Stars. Yes, of course it would be a disaster. But, what a chance for comic relief at his own expense. As a surprising twist, give the coach a MALE dance partner for the show. Maybe even Tom Brady! Go big or go home.

How about an appearance on Jeopardy. Belichick matching wits with Alex Trebek would be fascinating:

Of course there is ZERO chance Belichick would SUCCEED at lightening his image, unless he changes his behavior. Following the recent Super Bowl win over Seattle, he did appear on David Letterman’s show, but his personality was as deflated as the footballs his team allegedly doctored.

It’s probably asking too much for someone to snap a picture today of Belichick receiving a playful birthday spanking from Gronk, or joyfully blowing out the candles on his birthday cake, or even smiling or chuckling. But a guy can dream. Happy birthday, Bill.

Dave Coombs is a longtime morning radio host, he attended the same college as Bill Belichick, and he loves Rain Man.

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