The NFL rejected a one-page ad for the league’s Super Bowl LII program that was calling for people to “please stand” during the national anthem out of respect for veterans.
AMVETS submitted an ad with the message “Please Stand,” according to the veteran organization, who said the same ad was accepted by the NHL and NBA for their respective All-Star Game programs.
Since the denial of their ad, AMVETS has sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, which said that they were “disappointed” with the league’s decision to avoid controversy by not running the ad. In the letter, National Commander Marion Polk also said that AMVETS wanted to express their First Amendment rights similar to the players who chose to protest by kneeling during the anthem before games.
“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,” Polk wrote. “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.”
Despite the AMVETS’ claims that this is “corporate censorship,” the NFL isn’t backing down on its decision to block the ad.
“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 Sports through email. “It’s never been a place for advertising that could be considered by some as a political statement. 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.”
McCarthy also pointed out that the NFL approved an ad for the Super Bowl program that was submitted by the Veterans of Foreign Wars and includes the tagline “We Stand for Veterans” along with information about the benefits offered to military veterans.
The NFL has been under fire for allowing players to take a seat or kneel during the anthem, which is played before every game. The gestures stem from free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s protest in 2016. The former 49ers quarterback took a knee to protest against police violence, specifically against African-Americans and people of color.
Follow me on Twitter: @madkenney