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Craig Heyward was an NFL running back from 1988-1998, primarily with the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons. But, Heyward is much more well-known for a Zest commercial.

Zest, you see, was trying to get men to buy liquid shower soap instead of bar soap. The problem with that is that to apply the bottled soap, you need to use a pouf -- a frilly soft applicator which helps build a lather. To American men, this is wussy. And so they stick with bar soap.

Enter Craig "Ironhead" Heyward as the pitchman in 1998. Heyward was a large man, even for American football players -- 5-foot-11 and 250 pounds, give or take. He had a cool nickname. He was somewhat well-known among football fans, having just retired after a 10-year career, but he wasn't a huge star, so the appearance fee wouldn't be high. Heyward was also African-American and could play the Mr. T scare-the-white-people act well. That's what Zest had him do.

The ad was hilarious. I haven't seen it in a while, but I'll paraphrase the most memorable scene:

Ironhead in the shower, shown naked from the waist up, holding the pouf:

(Heyward speaking in a whiny falsetto): But Ironhead, what's with this thingy?

(Heyward speaking in a tough-guy voice): It's Zest with a lather thingy, chump! Get Zestfully clean!

— Thanks to robwicks for help with Ironhead's lines.

The advertisment also called him an "NFL star," I think, which is a bit of a stretch. Heyward was a starter for much of his career, but he only rushed for 1,000 yards once (in 1995 with the Falcons). He was a large man and difficult to tackle, but in the NFL, you need to be big and fast. Ironhead wasn't fast.

In 1998, Heyward was hospitalized to remove a benign tumor from his brain. As far as I know, he's doing well.

Teams: New Orleans Saints (1988-1992), Chicago Bears (1993), Atlanta Falcons (1994-1996), St. Louis Rams (1997), Indianapolis Colts (1998).

Career stats:
Swiped from http://www.football-reference.com/players/HeywCr00.htm

| Year  TM |   G |   Att  Yards    Y/A   TD |   Rec  Yards   Y/R   TD 
| 1988 nor |  11 |    74    355    4.8    1 |    13    105   8.1    0 |
| 1989 nor |  16 |    49    183    3.7    1 |    13     69   5.3    0 |
| 1990 nor |  16 |   129    599    4.6    4 |    18    121   6.7    0 |
| 1991 nor |   7 |    76    260    3.4    4 |     4     34   8.5    1 |
| 1992 nor |  16 |   104    416    4.0    3 |    19    159   8.4    0 |
| 1993 chi |  16 |    68    206    3.0    0 |    16    132   8.2    0 |
| 1994 atl |  16 |   183    779    4.3    7 |    32    335  10.5    1 |
| 1995 atl |  16 |   236   1083    4.6    6 |    37    350   9.5    2 |
| 1996 atl |  15 |    72    321    4.5    3 |    16    168  10.5    0 |
| 1997 ram |  16 |    34     84    2.5    1 |     8     77   9.6    0 |
| 1998 ind |   4 |     6     15    2.5    0 |     1      9   9.0    0 |
+----------+-----+--------------------------+-------------------------+
|  TOTAL   | 149 |  1031   4301    4.2   30 |   177   1559   8.8    4 |
+----------+-----+--------------------------+-------------------------+

— Thanks to rootbeer227 for showing me how to spell pouf.

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