When you have spent an entire season allowing players to kneel for the national anthem, you shouldn’t pretend you’re against making political statements. That fact appears lost on NFL executives who are under fire ahead of the big game. This time, for denying a Super Bowl ad from a veterans organization.
In 2016, former San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick ignited a national debate when he began kneeling for the Star-Spangled Banner. The protests, despite drawing sharp criticism from President Trump and military supporters, continued throughout the 2017 season.
And if the NFL was hoping for a controversy-free ending, it isn’t going to happen.
Football fans attending the big game between the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots will receive a commemorative program to mark the occasion. However, there is one ad they won’t be seeing because the NFL has deemed it too political.
The ad, submitted by AMVETS, features soldiers saluting the American flag. It includes the hashtag #PleaseStand along with details on how to donate to the national group. Even with a $30,000 price tag, the league refused the ad.
The Super Bowl publication is not a “place for advertising that could be considered as a political statement.” according to the NFL’s Brian McCarthy. Although, AMVETS National Commander Marion Polk isn’t buying that reasoning from the VP of Communications.
Fairness and Respect
“Freedom of speech works both ways,” Polk said. “We respect the rights of those who choose to protest, as these rights are precisely what our members have fought, and in many cases died, for.” He added that it was “reprehensible” and “beyond the pale” to deny that right to veterans.
Adding to the confusion, a strikingly similar ad from the Veterans of Foreign Wars is appearing in the program. The VFW ad uses the phrase “We Stand for Veterans.” which is only slightly different. The NFL reportedly asked AMVETS to change their ad to read “Please Stand for Our Veterans,” to meet publication requirements.
Regardless, the NFL blew another opportunity. It was first and goal with a touchdown in sight. Instead of showing that they do support veterans, they fumbled and lost the game.
Looks like it’s time for them to get a new playbook.