By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason is in Minneapolis this week for the Super Bowl, but his focus isn’t just on football.

He’s also here for the commercials.

“Watching these commercials year after year, it shows you how much effort is put into them,” he said. “The thought process and creativity and everything.”

Boomer has been a part of “Super Bowl Greatest Commercials” for eight years. It’s an interactive countdown special where viewers vote live for their favorite ads on CBS.com.

Last year, he was joined by actress Daniela Ruah of NCIS: LA.

“It’s a pretty big deal,” Ruah said. “It’s an honor to be a part of this show. I’m really happy to be here.”

The special itself has been around for 17 years. Executive producer Bob Horowitz says the idea came from a Super Bowl party where people were clamoring to see the ads as much as the game.

“When we started, Super Bowl commercials were less than $2 million,” Horowitz said. “And now as the Super Bowl comes here to Minneapolis, Super Bowl commercials are over $5 million.”

The theme this year is “man vs beast,” with Super Bowl spots that feature mankind versus those that feature man’s best friend.

“Boomer will be representing man. I’ll be representing beast,” Ruah said.

Boomer was the quarterback in Super Bowl 23 for the Cincinnati Bengals. Now he’s an expert, not only on what fans want to see from the game, but what they want to see from ads.

“Whether it be the Clydesdales or the E*TRADE baby, whether it be Michael and Larry Bird going through their three-point shooting contest, there have been a lot of great, memorable commercials, but I think that’s the key: The ones that resonate with the people who are watching,” he said.

Voting remains open on the ads until the show starts Tuesday night, when viewers will vote on the final winner during the show.

Looking to cast your vote? Click here.

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