On Jan. 16, there was a buzz around Libertyville High School. Many students walking into school were talking about what was going on outside — there were vans, trucks, fancy cars and camera equipment everywhere. About 15 minutes into the school day, it seemed many had figured it out: There was a Super Bowl commercial being filmed on the LHS football field.
The day before, LHS faculty and staff were emailed and notified about the event, told to keep it secret. Security at LHS was asked to monitor the fence surrounding the football field in case some students tried to meet the commercial’s stars, which included U.S. women’s soccer player Carli Lloyd and New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley.
LHS was selected for the spot because part of the commercial filming was already being done at Halas Hall in Lake Forest, where the Chicago Bears practice. The film crew needed another field nearby to film a different scene for the commercial, and the decision was between Vernon Hills, Lake Forest and Libertyville High Schools. The colors and lighting on the LHS field gave the director what he wanted, according to the assistant director of the shoot, who shared that information on the day of the filming.
The commercial itself is similar to an Olympic tradition, where the torch is brought all around the world. The NFL, in honor of its 100th season, brought this to life using a football and carrying it across America. Maxwell “Bunchie” Young, a 13-year-old football player, was picked to be the young, aspiring athlete who brought the ball from place to place. Each new clip had a different person who has made an impact on the NFL and its history. Jim Brown, Hall of Fame running back for the Cleveland Browns, made the first appearance and said “Take it to the house, kid,” a line that was repeated throughout the ad.
Stars like Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey of the Los Angeles Rams and Derwin James for the Chargers were shown on a construction site as both teams have recently relocated to L.A. Julian Edelman, wide receiver for the New England Patriots, is shown as Young intercepts a ball from him.
Additionally, a statue of Pat Tillman is seen when the commercial slows down and Young admires him. Finally, Young ran into Hard Rock Stadium in Miami in real time, carrying the football out to the game officials.
At the 0:58 mark of the commercial, Young holds the ball for Lloyd, who kicks it into the air. He then catches the ball while the LHS scoreboard that reads “Libertyville High School Home of the Wildcats” is seen in the background for less than a second.
Lloyd, co-captain of the U.S. women’s national soccer team and a two-time Olympic gold medalist, is the first female athlete to participate in an NFL commercial. At a Philadelphia Eagles training camp last year, a video of Lloyd kicking a 55-yard field goal went viral. Since then, there have been rumors of her officially being part of an NFL team.
After filming was finished, members of the LHS girls soccer program went outside to briefly meet Lloyd and take a picture with her.
“We found out we were going to meet her 30 seconds before we left to go outside; we were all shocked and super excited,” senior girls soccer player Allison DeFranco shared. “She was really nice and took time to actually have a conversation with us instead of just taking a picture and walking away, which I know the girls soccer program really appreciated.”
In addition, Barkley came to LHS early in the morning to start setting up the film.
“Welcome to the city, kid,” Barkley said in front of a green screen set up near the tennis courts. He is shown in the commercial to be in New York when Young runs by him and his line is delivered, which comes at the 1:33 mark.