Diana Flores is not a familiar name for most people who watched Super Bowl LVII. She might not even be a familiar face for hardcore sports fans. But the NFL is betting on flag football star Flores to help them move the game forward, and hopefully, capture the attention of a demographic that still isn’t entirely convinced the game has a place for them – women.
The 25-year-old quarterback of Mexico’s world champion women’s national flag football team, Flores headlines a Super Bowl commercial filled with recognizable sports faces. Flag football is basically the same as American football, with the only difference between the two being that tackling is not allowed in flag football. Instead, the players carry yellow flags attached to their belts, and the play ends when one flag is detached from the belt of the carrier.
In the commercial, Flores runs from an interview with sideline reporter Erin Andrews, and spins away from multiple professional players – with an assist from tennis legend Billie Jean King. The ad closes with Flores running down the street, with her yellow flags still in place, flanked by Vanita Crouch, the QB of the U.S women’s flag team and Bella Rasmussen, the first female football player to receive a name, image, and likeness deal in high school.
All of them hold footballs, symbolically carrying the sport into a new, more diverse era.
The feel-good spot is an excellent showcase for Flores, and for a sport that is widely played and yet many people still don’t understand, but even as it highlights the possibilities, it also underscores how far the NFL is from true diversity. Not only are there no women playing in the league, there were only fifteen women coaches in total in the 2022 season.
Even more worrisome, the league has been widely criticized in the past for being too forgiving with players who violate the NFL’s domestic violence policy. All of this doesn’t take away from Flores’ accomplishments, or the importance of the NFL shining the spotlight on women, but it does mean it’s worth taking the ad with a grain of salt, at least until the NFL puts actual policies in place to make it easier for women to be part of the sport.