by Alec Rudolph
To quote Robert Kraft, the owner of the now 5-time Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots (all five have been won under his ownership), “A lot has transpired over the last two years. And I don’t think that needs any explanation”. This is true. A lot has happened to the Patriots organization over the last two years, and if you have been consistently following the team for the past two years then it does not need any explanation. But that is not the case for everyone, so here is the explanation.
After New England defeated the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl 49, a report emerged that the Patriots tampered with the footballs used during the first half of that year’s AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts. The report said that several members of the Patriot’s equipment staff slightly deflated the footballs under the PSI levels required by the NFL, and that quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick were among those involved. Before I continue, these alleged events took place in the first half of a game that was a 45-7 win for New England, with the Pats scoring 38 of their points in the second half. Punishments were expected for the team, but the initial report was shut down for lack of evidence. Months later, the “Wells Report” was released, proving that Brady “might” have had something to do with the scandal. That was enough for league commissioner Roger Goodell, who slapped Brady with a 4 game suspension for the 2016-17 season. For reference, that is the same amount of games Greg Hardy missed for beating his girlfriend to a pulp. Despite Brady denying any affiliation with the incident and pleading his innocence in court, the suspension was upheld. Brady served his suspension, and the team went 3-1 in his absence. When he returned, the Patriots only lost one game the rest of the season en route to a 5th Super Bowl, where Goodell handed Patriots owner Robert Kraft the Lombardi Trophy and scurried off the podium, ending the Goodell vs. Brady Rivalry for the time being. However, the most recent commercial released by Shields MRI, a New England-based hospital, may change that.
This commercial features Brady adding the fifth ring to his collection of jewelry. The ring itself is a symbol of that fifth championship he and the Patriots won minutes before the commercial aired. It is actually a sequel to a commercial that aired when New England won Super Bowl 49, in which Brady added his fourth ring to the collection. This commercial is a celebration of his fifth championship and features Brady adding his fifth ring to his “jewelry” collection.
The characters themselves, Brady and the hospital worker, represent the Patriots and the hospital, respectively. However, there is more to it. Brady’s part in the commercial, particularly his final line “Roger that”, is a big middle finger to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. There is not much emotion to it, just a big “Screw you, I win”. That is what the foremost function of the commercial is. Not only is it a celebration of New England’s fifth Super Bowl title, but it is also a slap in the face to the man who tried to stop them, Roger Goodell.
Since Shields MRI is a New England-based hospital, only New England Super Bowl viewers saw the commercial when it first aired. Their advertisers knew that if you are from New England and you were watching the Super Bowl that night, you understood the context of the commercial. And, since it is a sequel to their previous commercial that made its own waves and is well known, people were also able to identify with their brand. That is such a key component in the success of the commercial. Their advertisers knew that almost every New England television would be set to Fox, the channel that aired the Super Bowl, so they took the opportunity not only to spread brand awareness, but to show support for their team and take a stab at the villain of the story, Roger Goodell to dramatically increase popularity.
Although one would think that perhaps Atlanta fans or non-New England fans would show disdain for the commercial, no articles were found showing such disdain. It seems as though viewers believe Brady was in the right for taking a shot at Goodell for suspending him. However, the rivalry between Brady and Goodell itself is already subject to much controversy, so this is adding fuel to the fire. Tensions were very high while the Deflategate case was still open, and with commercials like these still finding airtime, the rivalry doesn’t show any signs of holding up.