In the run-up to Super Bowl LII, the NFL caused a controversy when it rejected a printed ad that a veterans group wanted to place in game’s official printed program imploring Americans to stand for the national anthem, but the vets weren’t going to be silenced.
AMVETS, the nation’s largest and oldest congressionally chartered veterans service organization, submitted an ad for the Super Bowl program but was shocked to find that the NFL rejected it without a proper explanation.
According to a press release from AMVETS, the league rejected the ad because of two words: “please stand.”
John Hoellwarth, the national communications director for AMVETS, told The Daily Caller last month that the rejection was disheartening.
“The NFL’s decision to reject this very reasonable message from veterans is both surprising and very disappointing.”
“AMVETS believes people should stand for the national anthem,” he said. “We don’t insist that they must, and we don’t vilify them if they don’t. It’s their choice. But we’d like to politely ask them to ‘please’ choose standing, and that’s all this ad does.”
Because of that belief, the organization did not accept an offer to submit a new ad.
NFL Vice President of Communications Brian McCarthy told The Daily Caller that ads in the printed Super Bowl program are chosen with the fans in mind.
“The Super Bowl game program is designed for fans to commemorate and celebrate the game, players, teams and the Super Bowl,” he said. “It’s never been a place for advertising that could be considered by some as a political statement.”
Apparently, “please stand” is too political.
Yet the NFL tolerates political statements made before and during NFL games without batting an eye. Even as fans boycotted, the league stood by players who knelt during the national anthem, claiming respect for players’ political commentary.
But there was no room for an ad that asks that we respect “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Undeterred, AMVETS made a 30-second video that conveyed the message the organization wanted the printed ad to carry:
That says it all.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell defended the NFL’s refusal to print the ad, claiming the league supports veterans.
“It’s not an indication of any lack of support,” Goodell said during an interview on ESPN Radio, CBS Sports reported.
“We have a VFW ad that talks about, celebrates the important work that our veterans are doing, and of course you all know we’re going to have 15 medal of honor winners that we’re bringing together at the Super Bowl, which I think is the largest number of medal of honor winners ever brought together at any event other than their annual national gathering,” he added.
And apparently that is enough for him.
But the vets weren’t going to be silenced.
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