Distraction of the Day: JoePa and Burger King
If you thought Joe Posnanski told everything about the life of Joe Paterno, well, this video will shock you.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen. Although it may be difficult to comprehend, Joe Paterno once appeared in a pair of national commercials for Burger King during the 1995 college football season. The advertisements, which a marketing exec once described as “kinda cool,” were made for Burger King’s Legends of College Football Cups promotion.
In the first commercial, college football legends sing their school’s fight song. Paterno exclaims. “Hail, Alma Mater!” as a video of him being carried off the field plays in the background. This is odd, since those words do not come from our fight song, “Fight On, State” but rather “Hail to the Lion.” By the end of the day, I expect someone to make a GIF of Paterno punching and rubbing his hands together. The commercial ends with the vocal graces of Nebraska head coach Tom Osbourne.
In the next advertisement, Joe Paterno greets Lou Holtz at midfield after a Nittany Lions loss to the boys from South Bend. Paterno, like coaches in every sport, carries a fast food cup which bears his likeness. The two legends discuss if Paterno should have worn a polo instead of a suit for the image on his cup.
This is a side to the late JVP that I had never known before. Sure, I knew every business in State College had a picture of the former head coach until last November, but these ads are different. Burger King used this icon to promote Whoppers across the United States. Paterno made no secret of his conservative values, and must have been proud to support the free market. Yet by the end of his career, only the Big Ten Conference utilized the man who built Penn State football.