As jobs go, “backup NFL quarterback” is pretty cushy. It pays really well, and your responsibilities are pretty mellow. Mostly you run the scout team in practice, you study the defense on the sidelines during games, and if you’re on a team with a struggling starter, the fans love the thought of you. On the down side, if everything is going the way it’s supposed to, you never actually get the chance to play.
Verizon opted to celebrate the backup quarterback as it celebrates the backups and redundancies in its network–and they tapped New Orleans Saints backup Luke McCown to do it. McCown is the backup for durable star Drew Brees, rarely hears his name on television (dedicated NFL fans may know him as “Hey, I thought his name was Josh and he played for Cleveland, no wait, I guess that guy has a brother?”), but he–and his sense of humor–has just been introduced to millions of football fans.
In the spots by agency Wieden+Kennedy Portland, McCown explains the backup generators Verizon employs for its towers, and laments the fact that, if those towers had a chance in the regular rotation, “some of those backups would really shine.” The ads debuted September 10 on NBC’s NFL Kickoff Special, in the second quarter of the Patriots’ drubbing of the Steelers. The second spot features McCown sideways on the screen, explaining that they couldn’t fit the whole tower in the frame in landscape orientation. When you’re a backup quarterback, there’s time to think about all sorts of things.