TV Guide once listed the ad in which Mean Joe Greene gave his jersey to a kid who gave him a Coke as one of the Top 10 commercials of all time. And now, more than 30 years after it first aired, that iconic commercial has reached a new level of notoriety: it has made Glenn Beck cry.
On Thursday, Beck showed the Mean Joe commercial -- and another 1970s commercial, for Kodak -- and teared up as he recounted how much better America was in those days. I'm not quite sure what Beck's point was -- I think it was something about teenagers staying out past curfew -- but in any event, that Mean Joe commercial sure does have staying power.
Joe Posnanski wrote a great post about the Mean Joe commercial last week, and you should read the whole thing, but I think this is the most important part:
What is it about this commercial that made ME happy the million times I saw it as a child? I don't know for sure ... but it seems to me that it has something to do with pop culture heroes. There's this real hunger for our sports heroes, our literary heroes, our Hollywood heroes to be great people.We do have a real hunger for our sports heroes to be great people, and I think we especially hunger for tough guys like Mean Joe to be gentle giants off the field. The commercial is just a contrivance to get us to buy Coke, and yet it's also kind of sweet and touching. I don't quite grasp why it makes Glenn Beck cry, but I do understand why the Mean Joe commercial has touched so many people for so long.