The NFL may have inadvertently lucked out with their Super Bowl matchup, seeing as how neither the Eagles nor the Patriots have any players still kneeling for the national anthem. NBC was clearly looking forward to a controversy they could get people talking about, but we have to imagine that the NFL corporate brass is breathing a sigh of relief. They would love nothing more than for this whole anthem business to disappear into the annals of regrettable history once and for all…and they would love for that to happen without them actively having to do anything about it.
Whether that’s possible or not, the NFL is apparently going to limit “anthem discussion” as much as they can heading into the Big Game. And if that includes telling a group of military veterans to take a hike? Well, that’s not a problem.
AMVETS officials are claiming that the NFL engaged in “corporate censorship” due to their decision to reject a Super Bowl ad that would have featured the hashtag “PleaseStand” while showing military members saluting the American flag. The commercial, which cost the group $30,000 to produce, would have included information on how viewers could contribute to the national charity, which provides secondhand clothes, furniture, and electronics for vets in need.
In an interview with Military Times, AMVETS National Commander Marion Polk took the NFL to task for its decision to reject the ad.
“Freedom of speech works both ways,” he said. “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.”
The NFL, which has not admitted outright that it refused the ad on the basis on content, did issue a broad statement saying that Super Bowl ads were not the right place for controversial messages. The game, said a spokesman, “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.”
This message, of course, is absurd on its face, as the NFL has allowed all manner of politically-tinged ads in the past – none more than last year, where there was an advertisement directly challenging the Trump administration on the construction of a border wall. The NFL is fine with ads that encourage illegal immigration, but an ad that encourages people to stand for the national anthem? Oh, that’s a bridge too far!