Peter Berg: Players wanted to do stunts in NFL100 spot

The NFL won the Super Bowl, even if the game wasn't the most thrilling in its history.

Why? Well, the league kicked off its 100th anniversary celebration with a home run -- or maybe a touchdown -- of a commercial, chosen by USA TODAY's Ad Meter as the best of all Super Bowl LIII spots.

Acclaimed director and producer Peter Berg, who has brought us pretty much everything one might enjoy from a grassroots football perspective (Friday Night Lights in both film and television, and the docu-series QB1: Beyond the Lights, for example), directed the NFL's hit commercial, filled with NFL legends crashing into each other (and banquet tables, and dishes, and champagne flutes and a cake), battling for possession of a gold football. Berg joined NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport's podcast, RapSheet and Friends, to go behind the scenes of the commercial.

Among the most enlightening tidbits that we probably should have expected: A lot of the legends highlighted in the commercial wanted to do their own stunts.

"What was funny is a lot of the players were like, 'I'll do my own hit, I'll do my own hit,'" Berg told Rapoport. "LaDainian Tomlinson actually did his own hit but he ran into stuntmen. ... A lot of the football players wanted to do their own hits and then they saw the stuntmen doing them and they were like 'Damn.'"

As we all know, the best of Hollywood's best also include the stunt doubles who make unrealistic feats -- including bone-jarring, table-smashing tackles in tuxedos -- look real. Sometimes, even the pro football heroes should sit on the sideline.

"They're obviously very physical, tough guys, but we have stuntmen that are paid and are trained to do things like that. So we had so many stuntmen," Berg told Rapoport. "They were amazing doubles. To see Ndamukong Suh standing next to his stunt double, who was the exact same size as him dressed exactly the same.

"Von Miller or Barry Sanders, who actually didn't use a stunt double. We were ready to go with Barry just because we weren't sure whether he wanted to make those spin moves and the cuts. He's like 'I got this.' And he did. But we couldn't quite flatten Deion Sanders the way it looked in the show. So we used a lot of stunt doubles for the actual hits."

The hits were fantastic, as was the rest of the spot. There's no better way to begin pro football's official centennial.

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