A new promotional campaign from the National Football League kicks off during tonight’s Chiefs-Eagles game, and the star of the show is a 10-year-old phenom named Samantha Gordon.
A tiny running back from Salt Lake City who last fall became a cause célèbre after a YouTube video of her gridiron exploits went viral, Gordon will appear in the league’s first “Together We Make Football” spot. The 30-second promo will air twice during NFL Network’s Prekick Show and once in the first quarter of Thursday Night Football.
The spot features snippets from Gordon’s 2012 highlight reel (fleet of foot and slippery as an eel, she blows the doors off the much larger boys who she plays against) and includes some of the many media appearances she made in the wake of her newfound fame.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a coach or parent, player or fan—if you love football, now’s your chance to tell your story,” Gordon says in a voiceover, before instructing viewers to spin their own yarns at TogetherWeMakeFootball.com.
“If your story is chosen, you could end up at the Super Bowl…just like I did!” Gordon says, by way of wrapping up the spot. (Charmed by the YouTube video, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell invited the tyro tailback and her family to be his guests at the Ravens-49ers championship tilt.)
Other spots in the series will feature testimonials from Hall of Fame quarterback and four-time Super Bowl champ Joe Montana and former Secretary of State (and diehard Cleveland Browns fan) Condoleezza Rice.
According to NFL Films supervising producer Keith Cossrow, Sam Gordon’s experience became the inspiration and the blueprint for the Together We Make Football campaign. “Last year, something extraordinary happened with this amazing little girl,” Cossrow said. “We want to find and celebrate the stories of everyone who loves football and is connected to the game in some way.”
Fans who navigate to the microsite can upload a video of up to five minutes in length or submit an essay no longer than 1,000 words. Approved submissions that appear on the site subsequently will be available to share via social media.
The best entries submitted before Nov. 5 will be eligible for inclusion in an upcoming NFL Films documentary. Five grand prizewinners will be honored at Super Bowl XLVIII in East Rutherford, NJ.
NFL chief marketing officer Mark Waller said he’s interested to discover which markets will generate the most submissions. “We’re fascinated to see where they come from, how many international submissions we’ll get and how many will be generated within the U.S.,” Waller says. “That’s one of beauties of this sort of concept. When you get the submissions I suspect they’ll take you in any number of directions.”
Thursday Night Football kicks off on NFL Network at 8:25 pm EDT. Last year’s TNF opener, an NFC North battle between the Bears and Packers, drew a season-high 8.56 million viewers and a 3.8 rating in the 18-49 demo.