Sharpe-Sehorn commercial is still paying dividends

Filming ad helped forge friendship between pair

January 26, 2001|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

TAMPA, Fla. - The trash talking between the Ravens and the New York Giants began nearly two years ago, long before anyone imagined that the two teams would meet in Super Bowl XXXV.

In fact, it started before the best trash-talker of them all - erudite tight end Shannon Sharpe - ever thought of becoming a Raven.

Everyone has seen him dress down Giants cornerback Jason Sehorn on the popular and long-running commercial for the Charles Schwab brokerage firm. It has become a familiar part of NFL (and other) broadcasts, lasting well beyond the shelf life of the average television advertising spot. The ad will run on Super Sunday.

"I bet you don't even know how to calculate a P/E ratio," Sharpe taunts Sehorn from across the line of scrimmage. "I bet you don't even know how to spell Dow Jones."

No one is more surprised about the success of the spot than Sehorn, who filmed the commercial while he was rehabbing a serious knee injury. He and Sharpe both missed playing time during the first season (1999) the spot was on the air.

"It is amazing how many times they play that commercial and how many people have seen it," Sehorn said Wednesday. "They [Schwab] have definitely worn it out. Last year, they played it and the same guy is looking like a genius now. Remember both Shannon and I missed about 10 games apiece, so for us to be playing this year kind of gave credence to them. ... And now that we are in the Super Bowl, they are wearing the thing out."

The two players were filmed in generic football uniforms, which turned out to be fortuitous when Sharpe jumped from the Denver Broncos to the Ravens. The spot continued to run and Schwab lucked out again when the Ravens and Giants bucked the odds and reached the Super Bowl - which is also the biggest showcase of the year for the nation's largest advertisers.

Obviously, the success of the spot has helped fill up the investment portfolios of the two main characters, but Sharpe said the money wasn't the best thing about his participation in the advertising campaign.

"I think the best thing was getting to know Jason Sehorn," Sharpe said. "He's great. We've become good enough friends that I'll be at his wedding."

Sharpe said he enjoyed making the commercial because the director allowed him to do his own thing during the filming. He was able to adjust his lines to better fit his on-field persona, which may be what made the commercial so enduring.

"I think it was something special," he said, "because they let me ad-lib. That's my personality. That's the way I would say something. That came across in the commercial."

Of course, what also may have come across was the mistaken impression that Sharpe and Sehorn will be locked in a personal duel throughout Sunday's game. In reality, they probably won't hook up much on the field, but Sehorn still is looking forward to the inevitable trash talk that Sharpe figures to direct at many of his teammates.

"There's going to be a lot of yapping out there," Sehorn said. "I probably won't hear that much, because I'm not going to be covering him, but it's going to be fun to see what he comes up with."

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