?Leon' ads top sports commercials

By Jeffery Armstrong

Over the years, I have seen some great TV commercials. Although it seems like back in the day, regular TV commercials used to be much funnier than they are today.

ESPN did its top 25 athletes, players, games and more this year but the one thing they did not cover are the top 25 best sports commercials of the past 25 years. That might be a bit difficult for the network (or anybody else) to do, but I can name several outrageously funny commercials that have hit the airwaves recently.

The beer companies like Budweiser, Bud Light, Coors Light have really had great sports TV commercials. Snickers and Reebok have also made good spots. Here are my hands-down funniest sports commercials I've seen on TV in recent years.

*The ?Leon' TV spots from Budweiser. Leon has got to be the most hilarious person on television. This guy has been so funny that you almost forget you're watching a commercial n you figure that guy plays for a pro team somewhere. For those of you who don't know, Leon is a fictional athlete who plays football and baseball and he cares about nothing else but the money. When he makes a mistake, he blames others and not himself.

In one Leon spot, he says he can't go back in the football game because when the fans booed him for his fumble, it hurt his psyche. So the head coach sarcastically offered him some herbal tea and Leon said that would be a good idea as he headed back to the bench. The assistant coach asked if he should get the tea and the head coach's look is what makes that spot even funnier.

What makes these commercials so great is that Leon seems to really embody many of the current athletes' traits. Many of you may be wondering who is the man behind Leon. Well, journalist that I am, I have decided to find out. Leon's real name is Nigel Thatch and he is an actor that's had a few roles in TV shows and movies. He's had parts in movies like The Player's Club and has been on TV shows like American Dreams, Half & Half, Moesha and the Parent ?Hood.

*The ?not going anywhere for a while' ads from Snickers. These ads were great. You had to eat a Snickers bar to curb your hunger because you were going to be awhile waiting for these events to happen. My favorite Snickers ads were the ones where people had to call in to buy former NBA player Gheorge Muresan's cologne that smelled like cabbage (chicks dig it, Muresan said) and the one where the football player was hit so hard he got a concussion and thought he was Batman.

*Terry Tate, office linebacker, from Reebok. This series of spots was really funny. This company hired a big football player named Terry Tate, who patrolled the office and tackled everyone (including women) who made mistakes on the job. You'd get tackled and yelled at by Terry for everything from not putting a cover sheet on a report to taking too long on your lunch break.

Honorable mentions in the sports TV ads category go to the classic Miller Lite "Taste Great, Less Filling" spots; the Coors Light "Here's to Football" spots; the Derek Jeter-George Steinbrenner VISA check card spots and the current Bud Light spots where football referees throw penalty flags at guys who give cheap beer to their dates.

Jeffery Armstrong is a sports writer for the Daily and his column appears on Thursdays. He can be reached at jarmstrong@news-daily.com .