NFL puts all-star lineup in RJS
Director Spike Lee, players film playoff commercials.
|[Times photo: Chris Schneider]
Tennessee's Jevon Kearse dunks a football over the crossbar during filming at Raymond James Stadium.
By ERNEST HOOPER
© St. Petersburg Times, published November 29, 2000
TAMPA -- Two All-Pros, Buffalo receiver Eric Moulds and Tennessee defensive end Jevon Kearse, stood in the shadow of the Raymond James Stadium pirate ship talking and tossing footballs into the air Tuesday.
At midfield, Giants running back Tiki Barber soaked in the sun. Sitting on a bench behind him were Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb, Kansas City linebacker Donnie Edwards, St. Louis receiver Torry Holt, New Orleans defensive end La'Roi Glover and linebacker Keith Mitchell, and Miami defensive end Jason Taylor and cornerback Sam Madison.
RJS looked like the NFL players section of a surreal department store only Washington owner Daniel Snyder could afford.
I'll take Moulds and McNabb, and is Eddie George still for sale?
The Pro Bowl-like atmosphere was for a commercial being produced by NFL Properties. Director Spike Lee spent more than nine hours choreographing the support personnel and 20 players from around the league for a series of spots that will promote the playoffs and the stadium.
Several Bucs players, including John Lynch, Martin Gramatica, Derrick Brooks, Shaun King and Warren Sapp, were among the array of talent that also included the Titans' George and Samari Rolle.
"The big underlying theme for us is this idea of "Show Me Something,' which obviously plays in the finality and the intensity of the playoffs and that it's obviously time to step it up to another level,' said Bob Stohrer, vice president and creative director for NFL Properties.
"The spots not only will star the players, but there will be a voice-over, and it looks like it'll be Samuel L. Jackson. He'll be the voice that we like to think of as the voice inside the players' heads, the voice that really challenges them."
Stohrer said Lee, who grew up following Joe Namath and the Jets, brought a fan's enthusiasm to the shoot. The players were equally excited. It was surprising to see so many of them take their lone day off this week to come to Tampa. But the chance to work with Lee, a director whose movies include Malcolm X, Do The Right Thing and The Original Kings Of Comedy, was enticing. Even Saints cornerback Fred Weary, who suffered a season-ending injury Sunday, made the trek.
Said Holt: "You grow up watching Spike's movies, and you think you'll never have a chance to meet Spike. You see him at the Garden watching the Knicks. To finally come down here and have a chance to meet him and work with him is a pleasure for me. I love it. I'm enjoying it."
Other players, such as Madison, liked the idea of getting a feel for the stadium where Super Bowl XXXV will be played.
"This is where you want to be come January," Madison said. "That's always your dream and always where you want to go from the day you step on the football field in camp."
Lee and his crew had to film a number of players who may not end up in the playoffs. More players will be taped next week at Soldier Field for the commercials, which will begin airing Dec. 15 and continue up to the Super Bowl.
In a sense, Barber has the best chance of being part of the commercials that air because Giants coach Jim Fassel has guaranteed his club will make the post-season.
"He put it out there, and it's easy for us to follow it now," Barber said. "It's going to be tight, this division. It's going to come down to the last game, but we're one of the few teams that control our own destiny. We have the tiebreaker over the Eagles, and we still have to play the Redskins, so we have a chance to win the NFC East outright, which will get us right in."
Barber, who also participated in a photo shoot for People with twin brother Ronde, a Bucs cornerback, hopes the Giants can beat Washington on Sunday to bolster his team's chances and Tampa Bay's.
"If we help them get in, good. But I think we may have to face them," Tiki Barber said.
Mitchell's Saints also are in the midst of a playoff battle, but for a day he got to prepare for some well-deserved national exposure.
"It's a fun deal. I'm excited just to get out there and pump it up a little bit," Mitchell said. "We're not fortunate to have the Monday night or Sunday night football game this year, so it is a chance for us to boost this thing up."
Holt knows his team will make it to Raymond James this season. The Rams have a Monday night showdown against the Bucs on Dec. 18. And the game may be a do-or-die playoff battle for both teams.
"It's going to be exciting. I'm sure they're looking forward to having us in their back yard," Holt said. "We're looking forward to coming down here and playing ... a rematch of the NFC Championship Game. It's going to be tough."