Meet Mitchell Schwartz, the Jewish Kansas City Chiefs lineman
(JTA) – Kansas City Chiefs lineman Mitchell Schwartz does more than start for perhaps the best offense in the NFL. The 6-5, 320-pound tackle is a star at his position and has been for much of his eight-year career since turning pro following a standout career at the University of California, Berkeley.
The Chiefs made their first Super Bowl appearance since 1970 on Sunday, against the San Francisco 49ers. And what an appearance it was, with the Kansas City team taking home the Vince Lombardi Trophy with a score of 31 to 20.
It didn’t take long for reporters covering the Super Bowl to note his Jewishness. On Monday, known as the Super Bowl’s Media Day, Schwartz was asked about being “a Jewish guy starting on the offensive line in the Super Bowl.” (Bear in mind, questions by the horde of reporters on Media Day can be, shall we say, offbeat.)
The Southern California native isn’t shy about expressing his Jewishness, either. Schwartz and his brother, Geoff, who was also an offensive lineman in the NFL, wrote a book in 2016 about football and their lives growing up titled Eat My Schwartz: Our Story of NFL Football, Food, Family, and Faith. They were the first Jewish brothers to play pro football since Ralph and Arnold Horween in 1923.
“Once we heard the stat, we realized just how rare this really is,” Mitch told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in 2016. “So we both thought it was important to share our story – for Jewish kids, and in general, about how we both wound up where we are.”
The brothers attended a Conservative congregation in their native West Los Angeles. In fact, Schwartz didn’t start playing football until the ninth grade in part because his parents – Olivia Goodkin, an attorney, and Lee Schwartz, a business consultant – didn’t want the game to interfere with his bar mitzvah preparation.
“I started out worrying that they were going to get hurt – but then I realized it was the other players I should be worrying about,” Goodkin said in the book, as the boys were over six feet by then. “They were like trucks hitting small cars. And I started to kind of feel like maybe this was their destiny.”
Speaking about his sons playing pro football, dad told the Jewish Journal in 2012, prior to Mitch getting drafted, “I just kvell.”
Since then, Schwartz has played four seasons in Kansas City, earning All-Pro honors in each after signing a five-year, $33 million free agent contract. Schwartz, a second-round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns, has started all 112 games as a pro and hasn’t missed a snap, according to the Chiefs website – the best current streak of consecutive snaps in the NFL.
Though their team lost, two former Jewish 49ers no doubt were also pretty proud to see their team back in the Super Bowl for the first time since 1994. Harris Barton, an All-Pro offensive lineman who played from 1987 to 1998, was a key member of three Super Bowl-winning teams. Barton is a member of the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
John Frank, a tight end for five seasons in the 1980s, played on two Super Bowl winners before quitting the game to become a physician.
Let the kvelling begin.
Main Photo: Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz enters the game against the Tennessee Titans at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Jan. 19, 2020. (William Purnell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Israeli startup helps create first-ever interactive ad for Super Bowl LIV
(JNS) The Israeli startup Eko has teamed up with the consumer-goods giant Procter & Gamble to develop the first interactive commercial co-created by consumers that aired during Super Bowl LIV on Sunday, Feb. 2, reported The Jerusalem Post.
The 60-second commercial first aired on a dedicated website launched by P&G, where viewers could vote on and control the ad’s storyline. Their input and most popular choices helped shape “in real time” the final ad that was broadcast on Sunday evening during the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LIV.
The cast of the interactive ad includes “Modern Family” actress Sofía Vergara and her son, Manolo Gonzalez-Ripoll Vergara; Old Spice commercial star Isaiah Mustafa; comedic actor Rob Riggle; “Dawson’s Creek” actress Busy Philipps; and former Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu.
The commercial will tout different P&G brands, such as Head & Shoulders shampoo, Bounty paper towels, Mr. Clean all-purpose cleaner, Febreze air freshener, Olay skin care, Charmin toilet paper and Old Spice deodorant.
“This project excites me on a personal level,” said Yoni Bloch, co-founder and chief executive of Eko, a video-technology company.
“This is a significant step in the development of the company and the introduction of interactive video content into the mainstream,” he said. “For Eko, this is a wonderful opportunity to launch new technology that is leaving the limits of the Internet and entering the world of television broadcasts.”
This year’s game streamed online in 4K for the first time ever, which increased the number of viewers.