The NFL rejected an ad submitted by a veterans organization because it “could be considered by some as a political statement.”
American Veterans sent in a one-page ad for the NFL’s Super Bowl program with the message “Please Stand,” according to USA Today.
“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 said in an email. “It’s never been a place for advertising that could be considered by some as a political statement.”
He added, “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.”
In response, Joe Chenelly, executive director of AMVETS said that the players kneeling during the national anthem are exercising their free speech and the organization wanted to do the same.
“The protests are very much out of our purview,” Chenelly said. “We were not looking to comment on those. This is part of our Americanism program.”
USA Today reported, the organization’s Americanism program conducts seminars for schools and youth groups “on the proper way to display, care for and respect the flag.”
The NHL and NBA had accepted similar ads for their all-star game programs, according to AMVETS.
The organization’s national commander, Marion Polk, wrote a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
“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,” he said, according to USA Today. “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.”
McCarthy expanded on the ad rejection.
“We looked to work with the organization and asked it to consider other options such as ‘Please Honor our Veterans,'” he said. “They chose not to and we asked it to consider using ‘Please Stand for Our Veterans.’ Production was delayed as we awaited an answer.”
According to McCarthy, the organization asked for a hashtag “#PleaseStand” to be included in their ad, but was informed that approval would not given in time and the AMVETS failed to reply.
The NFL has been engulfed in controversy since more and more players have followed former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s lead and knelt during the national anthem.
The result of these on-field protests has been a public relations nightmare for the league involving a decline in ratings, attendance and ticket resale prices.
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