Mean Joe Greene Finally Reunited With The Kid Who Gave Him The Coke, 36 Years Later

The stars of the all-time great ad share a hug–but not a Coke–on the field as grown men.

Mean Joe Greene Finally Reunited With The Kid Who Gave Him The Coke, 36 Years Later

Any list of the best ads of all time is going to include two Coke ads: The one Don Draper came up with in the Mad Men finale, and 1979’s “Hey Kid, Catch,” in which Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Mean Joe Greene gets a bottle of Coke from a young fan after a rough game on the field.

“Hey Kid, Catch” is enduring for a few reasons–it tells a complete story in just over sixty seconds without answering every question (did the Steelers lose, or did Greene just struggle out there?), it shows even the toughest sports heroes as vulnerable human beings capable of feeling a range of emotions, and it as an adorable little kid who stammers when talking to his idol. And despite there being years’ worth of retrospectives and parodies based on the spot, somehow none of them have reunited Mean Joe Greene and the kid in the ad before.

Until now, anyway. As part of CBS’ Super Bowl’s Greatest Commercials special, Entertainment Tonight host Kevin Frazier reunited Greene (now 69 years old) and Tommy Okon (now 45) to talk about their shared experience with the ad, and what made it work. The reunion itself is sweet–the two men hug on the field, and seem to appreciate that this unique shared experience gives them a bond that spans decades–and even if the segment itself is a little cheesy, it makes us believe that Mean Joe Greene and that kid actually did connect that day in the tunnel, anyway, and that’s a little bit of advertising magic that it’s hard to fake.

About the author

Dan Solomon lives in Austin with his wife and his dog. He's written about music for MTV and Spin, sports for Sports Illustrated, and pop culture for Vulture and the AV Club.