Commercial for NFL Network isn't real, but generates buzz

STAN OLSON

Staff Writer


You might have caught Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Brentson Buckner shaking his 300-pound booty on a TV promotion for the NFL Network. Buckner has some moves for a big guy, although as you watch, you keep waiting for the earthquake.

"That was crazy," Buckner said of his prime-time dancing debut. "We filmed that in California this summer, and I thought it was just going to be a one-time thing. And people actually think it's a real show, but it's not a show, it's just a group of commercials."

Buckner wasn't the only big guy involved. Seattle's Grant Wistrom and Philadelphia's Hugh Douglas also participated in what was known as the "Big Man Dance Contest."

Buckner said the NFL Network, which knows filling 365 days a year with football will be difficult, was simply trying to be creative.

"They came up with this thing where we have these different spin-offs," he said. "Like they had a sort of Dating Game, with the new faces, and then they had the big man dancing contest, and then they did the one with the Raiders, where the Broncos are invading the Earth. It's working out pretty good.

"I've been getting a lot of pub from it."

So has the NFL Network, which is hearing from agents who would like to get their players involved in any such future efforts.

This all came about when the fledgling network was casting about for ideas to promote itself. Network vice president of consumer marketing Judy Fearing and her team decided to work from themes currently popular in television.

They created spots based on the make-believe NFL Newlywed Show (Atlanta coach Jim Mora and quarterback Michael Vick are contestants), Space Raiders (featuring Oakland owner Al Davis) and the Big Man Dance Contest.

"We were thinking, `If the NFL Network had a show similar to American Idol, what would football players do to compete,' " Fearing said. "They might have danced."

All three of the dancers pretty much thought they had it knocked with one take. The director and choreographer disagreed.

"The choreographer would yell into the bullhorn, `Five-six-seven-eight, move, move, move, move,' " Fearing said. "It was very funny. At first all three were, `You want me to do what?' But they got a little more confident. It probably took us a couple of hours with each of them; with Brentson we had to get his tongue just right."

Buckner said no stunt double was used at any time.

"I can dance; I can do my thing," he said. "It's good; Janet Jackson might see me in a video, and I can get a wardrobe malfunction."

Fearing backed him up. Sort of, since she was chuckling as she spoke.

"He was great; he needed very little coaching. He threw in a few of his own moves; I think there's a future for him on the dance circuit."

Buckner's not a regular on the floor in the club scene, though.

"No, that's a special occasion," he said. "That was all choreographed before I went on camera. I can dance now, but I'm too old to go out and dance; my clothes get too sweaty."