Really Weird Sports Commercials of the '70s and '80s
Remember the '70s and '80s? Of course you don't.
They were fast and strange times, whether you were alive for them or not. Being born at the tail-end of the '80s, I'm too young to remember much, but I'll say this: I learned all I'll ever need to know about this era the first time I asked my father about his glory days.
He didn't go into detail—just stared into the distance and said something about it being a time when "men wore makeup" and "sheep were afraid." I still don't know what that means, but based on those words and these sports commercials I recently dug up, I know one thing:
Things got weird.
With that said, the following is a collection of some of the weirdest sports commercials from the '70s and '80s. It was a time for "hot kids," athlete cloning and MVPs in purple dress shirts. Hope you brought your Atari.
Wayne Gretzky's 'Rocket Hockey' Ad
"Do you want to play HOCKEY?!"
Hope you're ready to put your boyish locks on Wayne Gretzky's forehead, kids, because "The Great One" is in town and he wants to play "Rocket Hockey."
No batteries are needed, kiddos. All you need is a derp face and a dream.
Hakeem Olajuwon Gets Sultry in 'Etonic' Commercial
Give it a few seconds to get rolling, because this is one hot reel of steaming weirdness.
Don't mind Hakeem. "The Dream" is just chilling out, letting you take in the countryside that is his legs, thighs and groin.
We don't get too many slow, full body camera pans in television anymore, and when we do, they usually don't involve dry ice and a 6'10" Nigerian-American man in short-shorts. You just don't see that anymore.
Etonic: Drink it in, America.
'How AMF Made the Weekend'
Monday is a sad day, and it should stay that way.
Monday is when people ask you for files you don't have, and to write stories about Lindsey Vonn. In other words, it's an awful and recurring part of life that you struggle through and are always happy to be rid of.
That's why this AMF commercial is so weird, because its premise is that weekends improve Mondays. In the commercial, Monday comes crawling up to the AMF building and complains about how no one likes it.
Naturally, the AMF building is God in this scenario, and decides to create two days of the week to put in front of Monday, and tries to rationalize how these fun days will make Monday better.
No. It's actually the very existence of these days that ruin Monday in the first place. This is the opposite of helping, AMF.
Pete Rose's 'Hot Kid' Commercial
Hot kids are cool, and Pete Rose has some explaining to do for this one.
I know it was the mid-80s and half the population was rush-rushing for the yayo, but even a snow-blind Patrick Bateman would've delayed an ax-frenzy if he saw this Kool-Aid advertisement.
"Are you familiar with Genesis' early—Wait, what? 'Hot kids'? What does that even mean?"
'Power Tennis' with Bobby Riggs
Power Tennis—the ungodly love child of ping pong and paddle ball.
Ex-tennis pro and "Battle of the Sexes" loser Bobby Riggs faces off against a spry, elderly lady in this 1970s commercial. They appear to be in a dark cellar of a nursing home, and presumably being cheered on by the staff.
Bobby eventually loses, and gets a "good game" slap on the rump. Because that's sportsmanship.
It's called a "dexterity game," but Screwball looks more like a ball-shaped lawsuit.
We can probably assume that this reason, among others, is why even a star-studded commercial couldn't help the product off the ground. Hasbro brought Tom Seaver, Bob Griese and Earl Monroe onto the same set—sewed their named around their collars—and told them to play with a homemade nail bomb.
I mean "dexterity game."
Joe Montana and Dan Marino Really Love Diet Pepsi
This commercial forces you to make a choice—you can be a bad sport, or you can put your bag down and buy Dan Marino a soda.
It's not so much a weird commercial as it's a poorly acted commercial, that is, until you consider how much time it spends on showing footwear.
Also, there are novels out there filled with less love than the yearning twinkle seen here in Joe Montana's eyes.
The NBA on CBS
♫ Welcome to the NBA on CBS ♫
♫ We're really banking that you're on acid! ♫
The '70s were a strange period. If you weren't lacing your hash browns with mescaline, that just meant you were out of mescaline.
With that said, CBS did its best to ensnare their audience in a psychedelic world of tracers and technicolor confusion. One can only presume this introduction was an attempt to boost ratings by making stoned viewers feel as though they're fallen into their television screens.
Bradlee's 'Boston Celtics Shopping Drill'
There's shopping, then there's shopping the Celtics way.
Don Nelson, John Havlicek and David Cowens show you how to shop like a pro basketball player, which involves dribbling the ball around a discount department store and annoying people.
I'm not sure what the thrust of this commercial is, but you have to appreciate any store that doesn't ask questions when you return a perfectly good basketball.
O.J.'S 1984 Pioneer Chicken Commercial
"Mama never told me about you."
"That's because I'm a cyborg from the future here to save you from making a terrible mistake, O.J."
Clone-J Simpson and his organic half-brother couldn't agree on their favorite flavor of Pioneer's chicken, but it made for a whimsical and strange commercial. Why have one guy endorse your product when you can give him an identical twin and a boatload of questions to ask mom.
Sigh...if only Clone-J could've gotten through to him.
Joe Montana's 'One of the All-Time Greats'
Eat Hershey's and you'll seize up with joy!
What do Teddy Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and jamming your body into a phone booth all have in common? They're all representative of different moments in history and OH GOD CHOCOLATE.
This isn't a bad commercial by Joe Montana, who manages to be about the only normal part of this Hershey's advertisement. There is, however, something incredibly off-putting about forcing candy bars in Elvis' face.
Clyde Drexler's 'Dr. Drexler and Mr. Clyde' Commercial
Hide your kids, hide your wife, because Mr. Clyde is on the ball court, and there's a 50 percent chance they'll sustain multiple lacerations and third degree burns.
This strange commercial isn't in English, but needs no translation. Clyde Drexler turns into Mr. Clyde when he puts on his Avia's, and he will raze your stadium to the ground.
It's an awesome commercial, really—up until the part where people have to shield their infants from fire and glass.
Kareem Abdul Jabbar
Nestle's chocolate is "scrunchous" when it crunches, but it's best enjoyed while staring into someone's soul.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was a great basketball player, but the way he undresses you with his eyes at the end of this Nestle commercial is a strange touch.
I love you, Kareem—I'm just not used to this. I'm also not used to ballplayers singing out of limousines or law enforcement eating candy instead of directing traffic.
Chocolate is good, but someone's dogs are going to get mowed over if you guys keep snacking in the crosswalk.
Larry Bird and the Celtics Do the Wave
With a name like "Scotch 'n Sirloin," you probably don't even need to advertise.
This Boston-area restaurant wined and dined the Celtics enough to get the team together for a half-hearted commercial. Larry can't even keep it together as he shows his "appreciation" by starting the wave—something that's best done while wearing a purple dress shirt.
Also, have you ever heard someone shut down a room just by saying "LOBSTER"? That was terrifying.
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