Enter the mind of Houston Texans’ star J.J. Watt as new MNF campaign kicks off today

With the 44th season of Monday Night Football approaching, ESPN’s “It All Comes Down to Monday Night” campaign returns for its second year, with a spot featuring Houston Texans’ defensive end J.J. Watt.

The 30-second spot, created in collaboration with Wieden + Kennedy New York, is narrated by Watt with references to NFL legend Ken Norton Jr. (now a Seattle Seahawks coach), former 13-time MLB All-Star Ken Griffey, Jr. along with a spontaneous cameo by Footloose singer Kenny Loggins.

“Things can mean a little more on Monday night for football fans and those around the league,” said Alexander Green, associate director of Sports Marketing at ESPN, who was involved in the development of the campaign. “We hear from a lot of players and coaches that Monday is the day when those who are not playing can actually watch the game.”

While this year’s campaign continues to emphasize the idea “if you’re not playing, you’re watching,” this year’s spots take a new approach: For the first time, players are the narrators and viewers are invited to go through players’ thoughts during the game.

According to Green, the spot introduces a “stream of consciousness” into a player’s mind where they envision a variety of people watching their performance – from family members to coworkers and celebrities.

“We wanted to add some personality and humor to the spot, and as we started to go through a list of Kennys in J.J.’s mind, Kenny Loggins was just the perfect fit. He is a football fan so he was up for it,” said Green. “We also knew that J.J. was in fact a pizza delivery guy when he was younger, so we also incorporated that in the ad.”

Two additional spots starring different NFL players will debut in the coming weeks, closer to the regular season. Monday Night Football will kick off on ESPN on Sept. 9 with a doubleheader: The Philadelphia Eagles visit the Washington Redskins (6:55 p.m. ET) and Watt’s Texans visit the San Diego Chargers (10:15 p.m./7:15 p.m. PT). The full schedule is available on ESPN Media Zone.

Read the Houston Chronicle’s story on Watt’s MNF spot.

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