It is being reported that the National Football League (NFL) rejected a Super Bowl ad by a veterans organization that would request people to stand up during the national anthem.
American Veterans (AMVETS) is the organization behind the ad and is one of the nation’s largest veterans service groups. They were offered the opportunity to create the ad for the game day, which would have cost them up to $30,000.
As is normal to request for the national anthem, the ad says “Please Stand” while depicting service members saluting the flag. Ironically, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said this wasn’t the platform to make a political statement.
“The Super Bowl game program is designed for fans to commemorate and celebrate the game, players, teams and the Super Bowl,” McCarthy told USA Today Sports. “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.”
According to the spokesman AMVETS was given the chance to rephrase “Please Stand”, with suggestions like “Please Honor Our Veterans” or “Please Stand for Our Veterans.”
“We looked to work with the organization and asked it to consider other options such as ‘Please Honor our Veterans,’” McCarthy 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. As the program was going to production, the organization asked about including a hashtag and was informed that approval would not be provided in time and was asked to approve the ad without the hashtag. The organization did not respond and the program ultimately went into production to meet deadlines.”
Executive Director of AMVETS, Joe Chenelly, said in the same report by USA Today that he wanted his organization to have the same freedom of speech like certain NFL players have by disrespecting the national anthem.
“The protests are very much out of our purview,” he said. “We were not looking to comment on those. This is part of our Americanism program in which the organization conducts seminars in schools and with youth groups on the proper way to display, care for and respect the flag.”
Interestingly the NBA and NHL each approved the AMVETS ad for their All-Star games, the NFL being the only one to reject it.
AMVETS National Commander Marion Polk wrote a letter to Roger Goodell, NFL’s Commissioner, stating: “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. But imposing corporate censorship to deny that same right to those veterans who have secured it for us all is reprehensible.”