Over the course of 13 seasons in the NFL, Emmitt Smith, who will enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday evening, pieced together an absolutely magnificent career. By the time it was over, he had amassed more rushing yards and touchdowns than any running back in history, as well as three Super Bowl Rings.
Many overlook these numbers, because in the end, he's far and away most well-known for his Just For Men commercial.
The tale told within these thirty seconds has spawned hundreds of questions, but the general consensus is that the following 18 are the most pertinent. Read on.
1. This commercial seems like something Sartre might have written. After retirement, Emmitt Smith is relegated to the "Running Back Rest Home." The decor is 100% football-themed. The sign out front is supported by a goalpost. Photos of footballs populate the walls and shelves. There is a football-themed clock on the wall. How can these people be so one-dimensional?
2. On the secretary's desk sits a football-themed bucket that holds miniature footballs. Why? Are they complimentary? Perhaps they're meant for the residents, but I doubt that retired NFL running backs would have much use for or interest in a football that isn't regulation-size, much less a dozen of them.
3. The secretary at the Running Back Rest Home is dressed as a cheerleader. She is even holding pom-poms. How can she reasonably expected to perform any duties required of a secretary?
4. Emmitt's only companion in the Running Back Rest Home appears to be a gentleman in a generic white football uniform. It initially seems plausible that he is merely a figment of Emmitt's imagination; however, Keith Hernandez and Walt "Clyde" Frazier can see him. Perhaps they share his dreamlike visions?
5. The staff at the Running Back Rest Home went out of their way to place a decal of a football on Emmitt's rocking chair. That was very thoughtful of them, seeing as he himself once played football. I suppose this isn't really a question. Just making a note.
6. Frazier asserts that Emmitt's "gray facial hair has put [him] in a rocking chair." Is his health a function of the color of his beard? How is this so?
7. Hernandez bluntly tells Emmitt that his "beard is weird." There's nothing inherently "weird" about gray facial hair; in fact, you will see a dozen men with gray beards if you walk down the street for long enough. Perhaps Hernandez is perplexed by beards of all sorts, and was never told that a man can grow facial hair beyond the bounds of one's upper lip?
8. Frazier and Hernandez are holding microphones labeled, "JUST FOR MEN." Is there a Just For Men news network? In the age of the 24-hour news cycle, how can a network with such a small niche compete against the likes of CNN?
9. After applying Just For Men-brand products to his beard, Emmitt's strength appears to have returned. He enters a football field. But what sport is he playing? It certainly isn't football. In football, there is more than one player on the field on any given play, and cheerleaders are generally forbidden from actually participating.
10. The fans cheer when Emmitt runs into the end zone. However, even by the admittedly tenuous nuances of whatever this "game" is, he has not scored a touchdown since he is not even holding a football. What is this game?
11. He is pursued by a team of cheerleaders; in fact, these appear to be the very same cheerleaders who cared for him in the rest home. Are they on the same team, or have they turned on him after Emmitt abandoned them?
12. At the 22-second mark, Keith Hernandez points and remarks, "Backfield in motion!" What is he referring to? What backfield? A backfield would imply a line of scrimmage, and a line of scrimmage would imply an offensive and defensive line. None of these are anywhere to be seen.
13. Late in the commercial, the rules of this "game" begin to reveal themselves. Apparently, one can score simply by running into the end zone. How many more touchdowns could Emmitt have scored in the NFL had he not been required to carry the ball into the end zone? Probably dozens!
14. What is Emmitt saying at the end? At first it seems reasonable to assume that he is saying, "keep your edge," but this doesn't jibe with the tale we have just witnessed. If we can agree that "edge" is meant here to imply one's physical fitness, we can also agree that Emmitt did not keep his edge. In fact, he lost it, only to reclaim it after applying Just For Men-brand products to his beard. "Reclaim your edge" would have been more appropriate.
15. Frazier and Hernandez can't possibly be described as respectable journalists. In fact, this entire story has, in a sense, been one giant commercial for Emmitt Smith.
16. Why did the Just For Men Network send two correspondents to cover this story? While it's an industry standard to put two people with microphones in a broadcast booth, we generally don't see two reporters from the same network covering the same story at the same time.
17. On Saturday night, when Emmitt gives his Hall of Fame induction speech, the color of his facial hair will serve as a referendum on this strange, thirty-second-long fever dream. Did it really happen? What is its legacy?
18. The most telling observation can perhaps be made at the 27-second mark: save for a small gang of extras, the stadium is empty. In fact, over Emmitt's left shoulder, we can see a field of empty seats. This is strikingly reminiscent of the dream sequence at the end of Raising Arizona.
Was this whole story merely another of Nicolas Cage's dreams? In this day and age, what is not, and how can we tell?