One kick for millions

If you watched Super Bowl LVII Sunday night – and congratulations to the Kansas City Chiefs – you may have seen a quick 30-second bit in which again-retired tight end Rob Gronkowski attempted to make a 25-yard field goal. It was a promotion for FanDuel and I must say, it was…odd.

The promotion was fairly simple: any FanDuel customer who placed at least a $5 bet on the Super Bowl would win a share of $10 million in free bets if Gronkowski made the kick. Naturally, aside from the stakes, the fun of the event was that Gronk, arguably the most dominant tight end of all time, is not a kicker.

Gronkowski didn’t go into the challenge completely helpless, though, as he was trained by soon-to-be Hall of Fame kicker and the NFL’s all-time leading scorer, Adam Vinatieri.

The “Kick of Destiny” was well-hyped in the days leading up to the Super Bowl. And why wouldn’t it? It was the affable, fun-loving Gronk trying to kick a field goal on live television during the biggest American sporting event of the year. Tens of millions of people would be watching. And if he made it, FanDuel customers would get $10 million in free bets (not free money, just free bets, but still, that’s cool).

That was it?

But the 30-second live spot during the game was just strange. I don’t know if “disappointing” is the right word, but something felt off. After all the hype, it felt like the production team didn’t really know what to do. With only half a minute to do it, there was almost no build-up. Not that I need an hour of pomp and circumstance, but little pump up, maybe with a quick interview, would have been nice.

And while it was known that the kick was not going to be in the stadium even though it was still “live,” the off-site location made it feel anticlimactic.

After a quick low-angle closeup of Gronk’s face – he wore a single-bar facemask, which was a nice touch – the kick was up and it was wide left.

Now, if you watched it, back my wife and I up on this. We TOTALLY thought he made it. We rewound the DVR and watched it again and could have sworn it went through the uprights before hooking left. But sure enough, another angle from someone’s cell phone shows that he did miss.

So the fact that the announcer said the kick was no good when we thought it was good certainly made us blink a few times. It was after Gronk missed, though, that the final few seconds made the whole thing seem half-assed. Some members of his family reacted with disappointment, while others celebrated as if he made it. Even Gronk’s own reaction felt staged – it was slightly delayed and then appeared over-acted, but maybe that’s just me being cynical.

The kick didn’t even matter

Then, as Gronk was kneeling and then rolling on the turf in agony over his miss, the announcer said that hey, despite the fail, FanDuel customers are still winning the $10 million free bets! Pyrotechnics are triggered and then a bunch of extras (why was everyone dressed like golf caddies, by the way?) ran onto the makeshift field to celebrate.

The mixed and delayed reactions made it look like not everyone was on the same page. FanDuel and everyone involved clearly knew that the prize would be awarded regardless, so they had to have given instructions to everyone on how to react depending on the result of the kick. But it looked strangely amateurish, as not everyone got the right memo and random people ran to celebrate with Gronk as he was writhing in disappointment.

Let’s not forget, either, that by awarding the $10 million in free bets, FanDuel basically said that the entire marketing campaign and what should have been a fun gimmick of a Gronk kick didn’t matter at all. Look, I’m not complaining that customers are getting free bets – that’s great – but like the entire 30-second commercial, it just felt off. If you are going to give away millions in free bets, just say that anyone who wagers $5 on the Super Bowl will win a share of the free bets, rather go forward with the whole charade.

Again, I am happy that people are getting free bets, but after viewing the short event, I sat there wondering what I just watched.

Image credit: YouTube / FanDuel

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