The NFL was hand-gifted a golden PR opportunity to score points with the many fans who have tuned out of the league over national anthem protests.
But as has become the norm for the Roger Goodell regime, the NFL bungled it to an almost comical degree.
The NFL has rejected a simple one-page ad in its Super Bowl programs submitted by AMVETS, or American Veterans, that supported standing for the national anthem.
It wasn’t overtly in-your-face or anything that could possible be construed as an attack on NFL players.
It simply showed the American flag being held by servicemen, information on how to donate money, and a “#PleaseStand” hashtag.
“The Super Bowl game program is designed for fans to commemorate and celebrate the game, players, teams and the Super Bowl,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told USA Today.
McCarthy then offered a hollow explanation for why the NFL opted not to run the ad.
“It’s never been a place for advertising that could be considered by some as a political statement,” McCarthy said of the program. “The NFL has long supported the military and veterans and will again salute our service members in the Super Bowl with memorable on-field moments that will be televised as part of the game.”
Marion Polk, AMVETS national commander, wrote a letter Monday to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell that was critical of the league’s decision.
“Freedom of speech works both ways. 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. But imposing corporate censorship to deny that same right to those veterans who have secured it for us all is reprehensible and totally beyond the pale,” Polk wrote.
As for the NFL’s claim that a sporting-event program is never the place for a “political statement,” this ad could hardly be considered a political statement.
There’s nothing “political” about honoring and respecting those who fight for the country’s freedoms and safety.
If anything, by rejecting this one-page ad, it makes the NFL’s “Salute To Service” look like a farcical and empty gesture.
Second, it’s ludicrous for McCarthy to suggest the Super Bowl program isn’t a place for this type of ad.
For proof, look no further than the NBA and the NHL.
The exact same ad was accepted by the NBA and the NHL, and will be used in their respective All-Star game programs.
Just to clarify for McCarthy, the NBA and NHL are both sports leagues and found a place for the ad.
Of note, neither the NBA nor NHL have any need to score brownie points. Not a single NBA or NHL player has ever knelt for the national anthem.
The NFL may not have been able to undo all the damage done by its anthem protesters with this one ad, but it certainly wouldn’t have hurt.
If you’re looking for the worst possible way to handle a situation, leave it to Goodell to find it.
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