It’s been nearly 40 years since a 9-year-old fan shared his Coca-Cola with Pittsburgh Steelers star “Mean” Joe Greene in one of the most famous commercials in Super Bowl history. Now the unlikely duo are reunited in a new video honoring the iconic ad and their enduring bond.
In the clip, which was shot for the upcoming Super Bowl’s Greatest Commercials 2016 special on CBS, the NFL legend and the all-grown-up Tommy Okon meet at Apogee Stadium in Denton, Texas.
As the two reminisce about filming the Clio Award-winning commercial, which debuted in October 1979 and was notably aired again during Super Bowl XIV in 1980, Greene recalls the 18 bottles of Coke he had to drink to get it right.
“I didn’t know any better. I chugged the doggone thing over and over and over,” Greene says.
Asked why he thinks people connected with the commercial, however, Greene points his finger at Okon. “I don’t know about that,” demurs Okon, who counts the former defensive tackle as “one of his oldest friends.” “I think the people that created it wrote a great commercial that really tells a story … that commercial’s kind of what Joe is: tough, football player, who’s a nice guy.”
In the spot, “Mean Joe Greene,” which was part of the “Have a Coke and a Smile” ad campaign, a 9-year-old Okon offers the injured and dejected football star a Coke after a rough game. Greene downs the drink and appears instantly rejuvenated, tossing the young fan his team jersey with the now-famous tagline, “Hey kid, catch!”
Greene gets sentimental when he and Okon re-enact the commercial in the new video. “Still special, after all these years,” he says as he wipes tears from his eyes.
“Not so mean,” Tommy says, patting his friend on the back. “Not so mean, this guy.”
Super Bowl’s Greatest Commercials 2016 will air on CBS on Tuesday, Feb. 2 at 8 p.m. ET.