NFL rejects Super Bowl ad calling to stand for national anthem
The league refused to approve a one-page ad for the Super Bowl LII program from the nation’s largest veterans service organization, featuring military men holding an American flag, which was hashtagged #pleasestand.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said that AMVETS was asked to replace its hashtag with the inscription “Please Honor our Veterans,” but missed the deadline outlined for making changes, prompting the league to reject the advertisement. He also added that the initial Please Stand ad “could be considered by some as a political statement.”
“The Super Bowl game program is designed for fans to commemorate and celebrate the game, players, teams and the Super Bowl. 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 said.
The NFL spokesman also noted that a separate advertisement from the Veterans of Foreign Wars group captioned "We Stand for Veterans" was accepted.
AMVETS national commander Marion Polk sent a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday expressing his disappointment over 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," 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."
AMVETS said the same Please Stand ad was approved by the NHL and NBA for the programs of their All-Star Games.
Anthem protests have been a highly debated issue in the league in recent months after players representing practically all 32 NFL teams began to kneel during the playing of the national anthem, following in the footsteps of Colin Kaepernick, who launched the ‘take-a-knee’ movement last season.
The former San Francisco 49ers player refused to rise for the ‘Star-Spangled banner’, protesting against what he perceived as racial injustice in the US. American President Donald Trump repeatedly criticized the league and its players for the actions, which he interpreted as disrespect for the national flag and the country.