By James Rainey, nbcnews.com
The National Football League got the thrilling game it hoped for, but not a Super Bowl free of controversy Sunday, as pregame protesters rallied against racism and a television ad infuriated many viewers by invoking the voice of Martin Luther King Jr. to sell pickup trucks.
An audience expected to top 100 million people watched a nail-biter contest that ended with a 41-33 victory for the Philadelphia Eagles over the New England Patriots. But American television’s biggest annual audience also got a taste of something unexpected midway through the second quarter, with an ad opening with strains of King’s 1968 speech “The Drum Major Instinct,” based on a homily.
The 30-second spot turned into an homage to American patriotism, complete with pictures of U.S. Marines and a camouflage-clad soldier hugging his child. It was a pitch for Dodge Ram trucks’ “Built To Serve” volunteer program, but the ad provoked outrage from many viewers and a rebuke from the King Center, which says its mission is to carry on his teachings and to “empower change-makers who are continuing his efforts today.”