On my radio show a couple months ago, I posed the question to my co-host John Granato "What if there were a list of '25 under 25' for sports?"
Granato, as he does most of the time, wondered what in the hell I was talking about, so I explained it.
You know how they have those lists in business journals and financial magazines where it's titled like "40 under 40," and it's a story listing the forty biggest power brokers in the business world (or sports world, or whatever world the publication in question focuses on) under the age of forty? Well it's one of those, but for sports figures under the age of 25.
(For the record, I abhor lists like this because, at age 44, they make me feel completely inadequate. I'm highly educated, pretty intelligent, and I think I have a high "go getter" motor....and every day I wake up so I can get paid to giggle at Aaron Hernandez jokes on the radio, which is awesome, until you see a list that touting a college classmate whose head you held over the toilet after 20 beers and now he's gone and invented the Slingbox or taken a company public or some shit like that.)
So you see (and Granato eventually saw) what it is I was proposing -- the 25 most influential sports figures under the age of 25.
I brought it up because Houston may very well have, at the very least, two members of that list!
(The actual list may need to be a post in the near future.)
James Harden turns 24 next week. J.J. Watt turned 24 in March. Without having sat down and scribbled out the list, I can't say with certainty, but I'd be shocked if both didn't make the list. I would have been shocked if both hadn't made the list back in June when I raised the topic, and I'd be even more flabbergasted now, and the proliferation of commercials involving both only validates my point.
Of course, we discussed James Harden's latest advertising effort in great detail in this space late last week with the extended version of his satirical panty dropping jam, which is awesome. If you haven't seen it yet, go click it. (According to multiple sources at Harden's kids' camp on Monday, there is an autotuned version of it coming out soon, as well. That's nice, but I'm old school. I'll always love the raw version more.)
And that brings us to ol' number 99 from your Houston Texans. Of course, J.J. Watt has his Yahoo! fantasy football commercials, which are sublime on every level known to man:
And now, he graduates to "truly one of the faces of the league" status as ESPN will be featuring him in this spot for Monday Night Football:
Can we do a little Zapruder analysis on a 30 second commercial for Monday Night Football? I'd like to think I can Zapruder almost anything, so let's go:
(NOTE: The video above appears to be uploaded straight off of the DVD on which the marketing company received the final production, because it has a countdown clock at the very beginning with some descriptive notes. Just know the time in the Zaprduer, as it always is, is based on the clock at the bottom of the YouTube embedded player.)
0:12 -- Immediate "lack of realism" alert! The Texans are playing the Jets in this video, which is fine, they played the Jets on Monday Night Football last season, so this could easily be a simulation of a play in that game. However, look at the uniform numbers of the players involved! While I don't have a copy of the Jets roster from Week 5 of 2012 in front of me, I can say with confidence that the quarterback's being number 16 is a heaping pile of bullshit, but that's fine, whatever. No need to embarrass Mark Sanchez more than he already is embarrassed for "being Mark Sanchez." (Actually, most guys would kill to be Mark Sanchez the other 21 hours of the day when he's not failing at football, but I digress.)
But, um, ESPN...how about the Jets' fullback with uniform number ONE!! First of all, the only players that are allowed to wear single digit uniform numbers are quarterbacks, kickers, and punters. Secondly, if the Jets are using a guy with that body type at fullback, well then no freaking wonder they suck so horrifically!
I know I should worry about other things in this world -- the war on terror, child predators, famine, disease -- but a HUGE pet peeve of mine is the lack of realism in Hollywood sports productions, whether it's movies, television shows, or ads like this. This one might be the most infuriating one because it's an ad for a show on ESPN!! Horrific, Worldwide Leader, just horrific.
0:13 -- The ball is jarred loose by number 41 of the Texans, who didn't exist when the Jets played them last season, and who this season is undrafted free agent running back Cierre Wood. Honestly, Whitney Mercilus was too busy to appear in the spot for three tenths of second? The producer of this commercial gets an F on "attention to sports realism" detail.
0:21 -- The ball is loose and rolling in slow motion, Hollywood fashion on the carpet. Immediately, J.J. begins harkening back to various people from his childhood and early adult years, all of whom are named "Ken." The first one is a guy that J.J. delivered pizza to (obligatory reminder that J.J. Watt at one time in his life delivered pizzas, a storyline that is rapidly approaching "Did you know Colt McCoy and Jordan Shipley were roommates?" status) named Ken, who is every stereotype of a guy named Ken who orders pizza -- long greasy hair, goatee, evil grin, shady apartment with posters (POSTERS!) on the wall.
0:23 -- Next is Ken Norton, Jr. who is shown on one of those old wooden, 800 pound tube televisions that took at least you and three of your buddies to move back in the day. Seriously, those things sucked. And anytime they broke, you had to hire a television repairman to come out to the house and fix the damn thing, and usually that guy looked, honestly, a lot like Ken the Pizza Orderer. Just a horrific circle of life ESPN has concocted here in the last three seconds.
0:24 -- Next, Ken Griffey, Jr. who is shown on a glossy photo on a desk somewhere, and magically an autograph is scrawled across the picture while it is shown for that split second. (Insert "Johnny Football" joke here.)
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0:28 -- And finally, it's KENNY LOGGINS! Like not an image on a television screen, not a glossy photo, it's the actual KENNY LOGGINS!! Are you kidding me?!? And he is sitting in a recliner strumming the ol' guitar and singing a Monday Night Football version of "Footloose," with customized lyrics and everything! In the least surprising development, Loggins upholstery perfectly matches his sport coat....and that's not some snarky metaphor like people asking "Does the carpet match the drapes?" with women. His actual upholstery appears to be fine white leather and his white sport coat practically blends in. Amazing attention to sartorial detail, which is unfortunately cancelled out by my disappointment that Loggins isn't playing a Monday Night Football version of "Playing With The Boys" and somehow facilitating a reenactment of the volleyball scene in Top Gun for Week 1 against San Diego. (And here come the Manti Te'o jokes...)
I suppose there's always the next J.J. Watt commercial for that, we've still got a couple weeks until the opener. At the rate he's been piling up spots, it should be coming along within the next few days.
Next week, at the latest.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 Yahoo! Sports Radio from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and nationally on the Yahoo! Sports Radio network Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon CST. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.