Adam Schefter has been a lightning rod for criticism in the past year, and the backlash has extended to an innocuous pizza commercial he did for Papa John’s.
Monday morning, Schefter posted an ad on his Twitter page pitching a football-shaped pizza with the national chain.
It quickly drew a lot of strong — and not very positive — reactions.
Sports Illustrated’s Jimmy Traina pointed out how odd the timing of Schefter’s posting the ad was, amid the busy time in the NFL calendar with roster cutdowns looming.
“So how did the NFL’s top information man get this day started at around 8:30 a.m. ET?” Traina wrote. “By promoting a company that sells a vile concoction that they call pizza, but isn’t really pizza.”
“Given the reactions that NFL fans were sharing on Twitter after watching the ad, it doesn’t sound like there’s that much excitement over the new product or the fact that a ‘reporter’ is schilling for it,” The Comeback’s Sean Keeley wrote.
FB Helmet Guy, who has nearly 30,000 followers on Twitter, wrote “Awful pizza, awful ad. This is so cringeworthy.”
“Schefty down bad or what?” tweeted Connor Grott, a sports producer at UPI.
“Why does this screenshot look like an absentee father trying to win over his kids with pizza after ignoring them for 10 months?” asked John Dabkovich, an anchor at CBS Sacramento.
Schefter had a string of several errors in reporting tone over the last year, but it felt like a bizarre internet pile-on to roast his ad for Papa John’s. It is not uncommon for top-flight sports media talents to be in ads. Jay Glazer, a fellow NFL insider, has been in ads for Subway and AT&T. Rich Eisen did a campaign for Courtyard by Marriott. Kay Adams is the face of a current Dick’s Sporting Goods campaign. The list could go on and on.
Frank Deford, regarded as among the greatest sports journalists of all-time, was part of the classic 1980s Miller Lite “Great Taste, Less Filling” campaign — and even wrote a book about it.
It’s one thing to make fun of what the pizza looks like — it probably tastes fine for a chain pizza, but Papa John’s could’ve spruced it up to seem more appetizing in the ad — but the idea that celebrity sports reporters are going to forgo tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to pitch brand campaigns is not the way the world works.