"Timeline" begins in 1906 in Canton, Ohio – the birthplace of professional football – and continues following a kick returner through present day illustrating the evolution of the game of football. At the start of the commercial the kick returner catches the ball and begins his run, crossing each 10-yard line and transforming into a new player from each decade. The uniforms and equipment evolve becoming more sophisticated and advanced. The stadiums transform from a field in Los Angeles to Lambeau Field, Old Mile High Stadium and Soldier Field. The officials and fans all change with the times as does the returner, who escapes a variety of plays that have since been removed from football, such as the chop block and grabbing the facemask.
The commercial continues to the present day with Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith watching as Pro Bowl returner Devin Hester reaches the end zone. The screen then fades to black and opens up again on Lucas Oil Stadium at the kickoff of Super Bowl XLVI, filmed only a few hours prior to when the commercial airs.
The commercial ends with the lines, "We certainly have come a long way. Thing is, we're just getting started. Here's to making the next century safer and more exciting than ever. Forever Forward. Forever Football."
"Timeline" was directed by award-winning director Peter Berg. It was filmed at the LA Coliseum during December 2011. Grey Advertising worked with the NFL on the creation and production.
The music to accompany the commercial is "What I'd Say" by Ray Charles.
Baltimore Ravens Pro Bowl linebacker Ray Lewis narrates the spot.
"Timeline" drives viewers to www.nfl.com/evolution, a new dynamic website that enables users to interact with the evolution of professional football. Visitors to the site will see an enhanced version of the kickoff return which allows them to pause at any point to find out more about an evolutionary detail such as an equipment enhancement or a rule change. This new site is an extension of www.nflhealthandsafety.com.