EAGAN, Minn. – "Kirko Chainz" is making another appearance.
Vikings QB Kirk Cousins is one of several NFL players featured in the NFL's "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" campaign, a humorous brand initiative playfully leaning into meme and pop culture that claims the league is scripted.
The NFL debuted two commercial segments Thursday. Set to a backdrop of the "NFL 104th season table read," the video stars comedian Keegan-Michael Key as director, while Cousins is joined by Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Jason Kelce, Ja'Marr Chase, Jalen Ramsey and more as actors brainstorming outrageous storylines for the 2023 season.
Cousins spoke with Twin Cities media members Thursday and said he enjoyed the chance to take part in the comedic campaign – particularly after a 2022 Vikings season that involved twists and turns nobody could make up.
"I always run everything by my wife [Julie], right? So, a commercial opportunity will come in and I'll say, 'Here is the script. Here is what I have to say. What do you think?' And she'll be like. 'Ah, that is corny. You can't do that.' Or, 'You can do it but you have to re-write the thing.' Or whatever," Cousins explained with a laugh. "She looked at this one and [said], 'Oh, this could be pretty good.'
"I knew that meant this had a chance," Cousins added. "And filming it was fun. It was good. And they do a million takes and you never know how they are going to edit it. But anything with Keegan-Michael Key I think is pretty funny. So, with him leading it, I think we had a fighting chance."
The spot opens with Key recapping better-than-fiction stories from last year – the Kelce brothers in Super Bowl LVII, Mr. Irrelevant saving the Bay (Brock Purdy's relief role for San Francisco) and a halftime baby announcement – that were all "ratings gold."
But Key's table read quickly gets out of hand, as the cast of star players reel off their own ideas and plot twists for the '23 season. DK Metcalf volunteers to do no-handed, abs-only catch; some players agree the Mahomes "character" should get struck from the script. And of course, a shirtless Cousins – wearing the chains that earned him the "Kirko Chains" nickname last season – wants to see a shirts-versus-skins game.
The ideas for this season's script become more and more outrageous by the second. With jokes by the dozen, "You Can't Make This Stuff Up," produced by 72andSunny, aims to entertain fans everywhere and hype them up for what is to come in the 104th NFL season.
"Our goal was to make this campaign tongue-in-cheek, humorous and clever in the way we tapped into popular memes and cultural conversations about the league and its incredible real-life storylines that are better than anything you could make up," said NFL Chief Marketing Officer Tim Ellis. "We really wanted to have fun with this and not take ourselves too seriously. We hope fans get a kick out of the campaign and are sitting on the edge of their seats to see what spectacles unfold this season."
In anticipation of the narratives that will happen this year, "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" is the league's first campaign for the start of the season that will continue throughout the season. With a total of 16 pieces of content, the campaign will be timed to key moments throughout the year, such as Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Christmas and International Series games.
"You Can't Make This Stuff Up" will air in tonight's Thursday Night Football game between the Eagles and Colts. The campaign will run on TV, digital and social.