A Detailed Look at the Super Bowl’s Best Commercial

Posted on February 2nd, 2014 by Scott Henderson - 1 Comment

Tribute to the Declaration of Independence
The Declaration of Independence was written in 1776 and every day since then, brave men and women in uniform have protected its principles. This is a tribute to the ideas contained in this document and its guardians.

History of this Tribute:
Twelve years ago, FOX Sports had the honor of broadcasting Super Bowl XXXVI, just 6 months after the 9/11 tragedy. The opening focal point of its broadcast was a piece in which the Declaration of Independence was read by fourteen current and former members of the NFL.

Now, the Declaration of Independence piece is the cornerstone of FOX Sports’ Super Bowl coverage. For the Super Bowl XLVIII, Jennifer Pransky, FOX Sports feature producer, has reshot 100% of the piece featuring NFL legends, military veterans, other America heroes, and a surprise duo at the tribute’s close.

We are very proud to be working with Jennifer Pransky and the talented FOX Sports team again to contribute the soundtrack for this epic sports event feature


An Original Music Composition
“Heart of Independence” is an original composition created for this feature by Placement Music and Steve Dancz, who collaborated in 2011 on the award winning score, “Declaration Anthem”, for the Super Bowl XLV (2011) feature. Part of “Declaration Anthem” will be incorporated into the new score.

FOX Sports commissioned Placement Music for this year’s musical score for the second consecutive Fox Sports broadcast. Just like in 2011, Tammy Hurt, managing partner of Placement Music and memberof The Recording Academy® National Board of Trustees, collaborated with Steve Dancz on the production.

For more than 25 years, Dancz has composed and produced music for countless soundtracks seen by millions around the world. Known for the stylistic range and emotional depth of his music, he has been hired repeatedly by iconic names like Columbia Pictures, CBS, HBO, National Geographic, Paramount Pictures, TBS, the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, Discovery Networks, PBS and NPR.


The featured trumpet is performed by Charles “Chuck” Arnold, an Atlanta-area professional trumpet player and music educator. Arnold is a ten-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, where he served in Navy Band San Diego, the U.S. 7th Fleet Band in Yokosuka, Japan, the U.S. 6th Fleet Band in Naples, Italy, and Navy Band New Orleans, in New Orleans, LA.

Leslie Ann Jones was the music score mixer for this piece just like she was in 2011. Jones is a multiple Grammy Award-winning recording engineer working as Director of Music Recording and Scoring at Skywalker Sound, of Lucasfilm, Ltd. Fame.

Assisting Dancz with the production was the team at Tunewelders Music, another Atlanta-based operation. Jason Shannon and Jeremy Gilbertson worked on a Dorito’s commercial for last year’s Super Bowl and this year helped bring the score to life by helping to create a virtual orchestra.

The Open: President Josiah Bartlett

We begin with a closeup pan of US servicemen and women reading quotes from our Founders.

SERVICE MEMBER 1: Our obligations to our country never cease, but with our lives.
SERVICE MEMBER 2: We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.
SERVICE MEMBER 3: Action will delineate and define you.


Soon, the camera settles on a familiar presidential face, Martin Sheen. Among the characters he has played in his career, Sheen gained quite the bully pulpit as President Josiah Bartlet in The West Wing (1999–2006). It was his second White House role, having first played Chief of Staff to Michael Douglas’ President Andrew Shepherd in The American President.

MARTIN SHEEN: Those words of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson ring true today. Over 237 years ago, our Forefathers had the future of this nation in their hands.

With one document they declared not only our independence, but what it means to be an American – that liberty and equality are fundamental to who we are.

And for the 237 years that have followed, our brave men and women in uniform have fought to protect everything that the Declaration of Independence set forth. Every day that we live free, we honor their sacrifice to protect the ideals upon which America was founded.”

Declaration Reading #1:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.

Location: Thomas Jefferson Memorial
We move to steps the Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC., paying tribute to the Declaration of Independence’s main author and the 3rd President of the United Sates, Thomas Jefferson.


Readers: Art Monk and London Fletcher (@LFletcher59)
Three-time Super Bowl champion and NFL Hall of Fame receiver, Art Monk begins the reading of the preamble. He is followed by fellow Washington Redskin great and Super Bowl Champion (XXXIV), London Fletcher.


Location: Atlanta, Georgia
From this helipad, we are overlooking where the Civil War’s Battle of Atlanta was fought 150 years ago. Atlanta is the 9th largest metropolitan area in the country and has hosted its share of memorable Super Bowls.

Reader: Tony Gonzalez (@TonyGonzalez88)
One of the best receiving tight ends to ever play the game, Tony Gonzalez just completed his final season in the NFL. He was the first tight end to catch 1,000 passes and was named to 14 Pro Bowls, tying him for the most Pro Bowl appearances by any player.


Location: Mill City Museum (@MillCityMuseum)
Mill City Museum is a Minnesota Historical Society museum in Minneapolis. It opened in 2003, built in the ruins of the Washburn “A” Mill next to Mill Ruins Park on the banks of the Mississippi River. The museum focuses on the founding and growth of Minneapolis

Reader: Adrian Peterson (@AdrianPeterson)
Minnesota Viking Adrian Peterson has been named to six Pro Bowls and became the third fastest player to reach 10,000 career rushing yards. Coming off of a severe knee injury, Peterson came 12 yards shy of breaking the single season record for rushing yards and was named the 2012 NFL MVP.


Location: MetLife Stadium (@MLStadium)
The shared home stadium of the NY Giants and NY Jets, MetLife Stadium is located in East Rutherford, New Jersey. As the host stadium for this year’s Super Bowl, it is the first northern climate outdoor venue to host NFL’s biggest game of the year in the modern era.

Readers: Woody Johnson (@woodyjohnson4), Steve Tisch (@TheSteveTisch), and John Mara
The great grandson of Johnson & Johnson’s co-founder, Woody Johnson purchased the New York Jets in 2000 and moved it to current home in 2010. Johnson served on the NFL Commissioner search committee in which a list of 185 candidates to succeed Paul Tagliabue was narrowed down to the final choice of Roger Goodell.

Named chairman and executive vice president of the New York Giants in 2005, Steve Tisch is the son of Bob Tisch, who purchased a stake in the team in 1991. He has accepted the Vince Lombardi Trophy twice, when the Giants won the Super Bowl in 2008 and again in 2012. Tisch is also a film and television producer.

John Mara is the third generation of his family to own the New York Giants and serves as the president, CEO, and co-owner today. His grandfather, Tim Mara, founded the team in 1925, makng the Giants the second longest family owned team in the NFL.


Location: National Railroad Museum
Resting in the suburbs of Green Bay, the National Railroad Museum is one of the oldest institutions in the United States dedicated to preserving and interpreting the nation’s railroad history.

Readers: Clay Matthews (@ClayMatthews52) and Aaron Rodgers (@AaronRodgers12)
Four-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl Champion, Clay Matthews was named NFC Defensive Player of the Year in 2010. Matthews is the third generation of his family to play in the NFL.

Super Bowl champion and Super Bowl MVP, Aaron Rodgers is a three-time Pro bowl quarterback. Rodgers holds the highest career passer rating in NFL history and the lowest career pass interception percentage


Location: Indianapolis Union Station
The Indianapolis Union Station was the first union station in the world, opening on September 20, 1853, by the Indianapolis Union Railway. Today, it pays homage to an era gone by and remains open to events and visitors.

Readers: Raymond Berry, Andrew Luck, and Chuck Pagano (@PaganoShow)
Military veteran and NFL legend Raymond Berry played in six Pro Bowls and two NFL Championship teams (predecessor to the Super Bowl). One of Berry’s most notable performances was in the “The Greatest Game Ever Played” (aka 1958 NFL Championship Game).

Selected first overall in the 2011 NFL Draft, Andrew Luck has lived up to the hype. He set the NFL record for most passing yards by a rookie, led his team to the playoffs both years, and been named to two Pro Bowls.

Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano is a former NFL player and has served on numerous coaching staffs in the league. In 2012, he took on the head coach job for the first time and waged a courageous fight against cancer. His team has made the playoffs both years of his tenure.


Location: Houston Fire Station #8
Houston has served host to the Super Bowl twice. JJ Watt has several family members, including his father, who are/were firefighters, hence the location.

Reader: JJ Watt (@JJWatt)
Fresh off serving as a team captain at the 2013 Pro Bowl, JJ Watt has been named to the Pro Bowl both years he’s played in the NFL. Look for this defensive end to add to his already growing NFL resume.

The Bridge: Bad Ass Astronaut and Medal of Honor Marine

Edwin Eugene “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr. was the lunar module pilot on Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing in history. He became the second person to walk on the moon, minutes after mission commander Neil Armstrong became the first.


Aldrin attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, having turned down a full scholarship offer from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He graduated third in his class at West Point in 1951 and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force.

As an active duty officer, he flew 66 combat missions during the Korean War and shot down two enemy aircraft. The June 8, 1953, issue of Life magazine featured gun camera photos taken by Aldrin of one of the Russian pilots ejecting from his damaged aircraft. He remains a pretty bad ass who makes even Chuck Norris nervous.



Joining Aldrin is a true American hero, Sgt. Dakota L. Meyer. Meyer is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps and the War in Afghanistan, who earned the Medal of Honor for his actions on September 8, 2009 in the Kunar Province coming to the aid of Afghanistan and American troops.

He is the youngest living Medal of Honor recipient, the third living recipient for either Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan, and the first living Marine in 38 years to be so honored.

BUZZ ALDRIN: Since the day this document was signed, its principles have served as the bedrock of our co untry – principles worth protecting at any cost.

DAKOTA MEYER: Whether defying the tyranny of the King of Great Britain or fighting the terrorism of our modern world, the men and women of our Armed Forces have stood up to safeguard our shores, to preserve our way of life.

BUZZ ALDRIN: We must never forget their service. For through their continued vigilance, those values, declared in 1776, will forever define who we are as Americans.

Declaration of Independence Reading #2

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.


Location: Boston Public Library
The majestic main staircase of the Boston Public Library stands yards away from the site of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. The lions pay tribute to Civil War soldiers from Massachusetts and other New England states.

Readers: Joe Andruzzi (@Andruzzi63), Bob Kraft, and Matt Chatham (@chatham58) surrounded by Boston Police Department (@BostonPolice) members who were first responders on the scene.

Three-time Super Bowl champion Joe Andruzzi played for three NFL teams and overcame non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It was while hosting a foundation event at the 2013 Boston Marathon near the finish line that Andruzzi acted quickly to help those injured by the blast.

A New England Patriots season ticket holder since 1972, Robert Kraft purchased the team’s stadium in 1988 and the team in 1994. Since buying the team, the Patriots have made the playoffs 15 times, made it to the Suer Bowl 6 times and won it 3 times in 20 years. Following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, Kraft announced he would match up to $100,000 in donations made for the victims.

Matt Chatham is also a three-time Super Bowl champion and served an important special teams role on the New England Patriots. He was with his former teammate, Andruzzi, during the Boston Marathon bombings and helped him attend to victims.


Location: USS Hornet Museum (@HornetMuseum)
This World War II-era aircraft carrier is docked on the southernmost pier of the former Naval Air Station Alameda near Oakland. The USS Hornet served in fierce Pacific theater battles during World War II. In peacetime, she served as the recovery ship for Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 astronauts, welcoming Buzz Aldrin and his crewmates home in 1969.

Reader: Art Shell
Former Oakland Raider player and head coach, Art Shell has been to three Super Bowls and eight Pro Bowls. Named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1989, Shell was the second African-American head coach of the modern professional football era.


Location: Buffalo City Hall
Buffalo’s tallest building until 1970, Buffalo City Hall remains one of the largest and tallest municipal buildings in the United States of America and is also one of the tallest buildings in Western New York.

Readers: Thurman Thomas (@thurmanthomas) and Jim Kelly (@JimKellyInc)
Pro Football Hall of Famers Thurman Thomas and Jim Kelly were the heart of the Buffalo Bills “No Huddle Offense during team’s unprecedented four consecutive Super Bowl appearances. Thomas made it to five Pro Bowls and finished with over 12,000 career rushing years. Kelly played in four Pro Bowls, amassed over 35,000 career passing yards, and his #12 jersey is the only jersey number ever retired by the Buffalo Bills.


Location: Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The home of the Second Continental Congress and the Constitution Convention, Independence Hall is where American colonial leaders drafted and adopted the Declaration of Independence.

Reader: Chuck Bednarik
World War II veteran and Pro Football Hall of Famer Chuck Bendarik closes out the reading. He served in the Army Air Corps and was awared the Air Medal for his actions in battle. Bednarik made eight Pro Bowls, earning Pro Bowl MVP in 1953, and is a two-time NFL Champion. He was known as one of the most devastating tacklers in the history of football and the last two-way player in the National Football League. The Chuck Bednarik Award goes every year to college football’s defensive player of the year.

The Close: A Surprise Duo

Bringing the tribute full circle, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden recognize the sacrifice military personnel and their families make in service to our freedom. FLOTUS and Dr. Biden know of these sacrifices firsthand thanks to their work leading JoiningForces.gov.


DR. BIDEN: For more than two centuries, the pledge we have made to each other in our Declaration of Independence has only grown stronger.

FLOTUS: Through depression and prosperity… through civil war and world war… America has endured as a shining example to the world because we have always held tight to our founding ideals.

And generation after generation, that pledge has been upheld through the hard work and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform. They’ve fought for us. They’ve died for us. They’ve answered the call of duty again and again.

DR. BIDEN: Today, our troops continue to deploy to the most dangerous parts of the world, risking their lives in order to protect our lives, our fortunes, our sacred honor. And as they serve, their families must also make sacrifices.

FLOTUS: So now, we must do our part, as well. All of us can find new ways to salute the service of the troops, veterans and military families who have given us so much. And if we do that, together, we can uphold the founding promise of our country and preserve the rights and freedoms that we all hold so dear.

Learn more at  www.joiningforces.gov.

Joining Forces Logo

One response to “A Detailed Look at the Super Bowl’s Best Commercial”

  1. CauseShift » Georgia Scores Twice at Super Bowl XLVIII

    […] created the online strategy and led digital outreach for the composers. You can read a detailed behind-the-scenes look at the entire feature here. Or just watch the video posted by the White House featuring First […]

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