A smashing idea: Boston College Eagle, Temple Owl mascots star in new ‘This Is SportsCenter’ spot

When birds meet glass, the outcome is no laughing matter.

When people dressed as giant birds purposely run into glass windows, however, the imagery is going to generate some smiles.

The latest “This Is SportsCenter” segment stars anchors Chris McKendry, Stuart Scott, the Boston College Eagle and the Temple Owl mascots.

A.J. Mazza, Manager, ESPN Marketing, fills Front Row in on how the latest ad in the classic series was conceived.

“Birds” seems like a simple concept. How did the idea come about?
We often find that the simplest spots that hone in on something relatable resonate the most with our fans. This came together at the 11th hour, really. We try and do a few “This is SportsCenter” shoots per year, coming away with about six new spots each round that we roll out over the course of a year. We were hoping to get six spots out of this particular shoot, but a couple athletes had to cancel at the last minute due to personal circumstances. Our agency did some quick thinking and came up with what we think is a pretty clever, relatable concept. And, of course, we always love when we can incorporate mascots. Fortunately the birds were available last minute, and were great sports. We also need to thank Stuart and Chris, as they moved around a few things last minute to participate.

How did you select the mascots?
We started by making a list of all of the major “bird” mascots and then we began making calls to see who might be available. Within 30 minutes, we had a few on board. We made their travel arrangements and brought them out to Bristol.

How many takes were involved? Any funny stories behind the practice runs?
Let me first say that no mascots were injured in the filming of these spots, but there were a lot of takes — probably 20-25. Each time, the birds walked into the glass. There were no camera tricks for this one. They went headfirst each time, and they were great about it.

Have the BC Eagle or Temple Owl been part of other spots?
The BC Eagle has appeared in a few “This Is SportsCenter” spots in the past. The Temple Owl was making his first appearance.

When will we see the next new “This Is SportsCenter” ads?
As early as next Monday, with a spot featuring [Boston Celtics star] Rajon Rondo. We also have a spot launch planned to celebrate the start of the NHL season.

ESPN Communications publicist Amy Phillips contributed to this post.