Super Bowl LI was billed to be a classic, and it certainly did not disappoint, with the New England Patriots pulling off the largest comeback in Super Bowl history to defeat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28. But this Super Bowl was also special in another way, in the depth of the connection between the Super Bowl and the state of Israel.
Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots franchise, is a passionate supporter of Israel. He has donated money to Israeli causes, including the building of a new sports complex in Jerusalem as part of the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the re-unification of Jerusalem this year. He also makes sure to share his passion for Israel with others; in the summer of 2015, he lead a mission of 19 NFL Hall of Famers to Israel, where they toured the land and saw cutting-edge Israeli technology. Mr. Kraft’s support also extends to the difficult times. When Patriots fan Ezra Schwartz was murdered in a terrorist attack in 2015, Mr. Kraft ensured that the Patriots held a moment of silence for him at their next game.
It is not just the Patriots who support Israel, though. Arthur Blank, the owner of the Atlanta Falcons franchise, has given majorly to many charitable causes, including $75,000 to the Jewish Agency for Israel, who help encourage and facilitate Aliyah to Israel.
Julian Edelman, the Patriots wide receiver who made an incredible game-changing catch in the fourth-quarter, which has been billed as “one of the Super Bowl’s greatest catches” is also a passionate supporter of Israel. Edelman wore an Israeli-American pin during one NFL game in the 2014/15 season, and also came to visit Israel in the summer of 2015. He has clearly inspired some of his teammates to follow him – Martellus Bennett, a tight end for the Patriots, followed up the victory in the Super Bowl this week with a visit to Israel of his own!
There were other significant Israeli connections to Super Bowl LI. One of the most highly rated commercials of this years Super Bowl was the Wix commercial, featuring Israeli actress Gal Gadot. In another commerical aired on the night, by Google, one of the shots shows a house with the Jewish Mezuzah on the doorpost. Finally, fans this year were able to use a new “Be The Player” feature when watching the game, allowing them to have view the game from the perspective of the players; but the Intel 360 technology used for this is so sophisticated the players did not even wear cameras on their body. The technology was developed by an Israeli company called Replay Technologies, which was acquire by Intel last March. At Super Bowl LI, two teams with strong connections to Israel played a game filmed by Israeli technology, interspersed by commercials featuring an Israeli actress. We are already looking forward to Super Bowl LII!
Contributed by Aron White, CAMERA intern