The NFL deserves some credit for trying to clean up after itself following months of deference to the political statements of some players and fans, but not others.
However, with the league’s rejection of an ad by one of the nation’s oldest veterans groups — an ad that’s a full throated request for those reading to #pleasestand for veterans — the organization still looks fearful of the repercussions of going hard against the progressive powers that be in the media and, no doubt, within their own player’s union.
The ad, designed for inclusion in the Super Bowl printed program, was submitted by AMVETS (American Veterans) with the request for anyone reading to #pleasestand; a direct reference to the efforts by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to kneel in protest during the national anthem to bring awareness to police brutality in black communities.
The NFL rejected the ad and says they tried to work with the veterans organization to choose different rhetoric that would be less of a lighting rod.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement Monday: “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.”
According to McCarthy, the league tried to work with AMVETS in coming up with alternative wording but had no success.
“We looked to work with the organization and asked it to consider other options such as “Please Honor our Veterans,” McCarthy stated. “They chose not to and we asked it to consider using ‘Please Stand for Our Veterans.’ Production was delayed as we awaited an answer.”
The league was said to have approved an ad from another veterans group that said, “We Stand for Veterans,” but apparently found the AMVETS ad a little too pointed.
For their part, AMVETS penned a letter to league Commissioner Roger Goodell and took to Twitter to express their displeasure with the NFL’s rejection of their ad.
— Jan Brown (@AMVETSNatlCmdr) January 22, 2018
“While we are well aware of the controversy surrounding players kneeling during the National Anthem and the public relations problems this has caused the NFL, our ad is neither a demand nor a judgment upon those who choose to kneel during the National Anthem. It’s a simple, polite request that represents the sentiment of our membership, particularly those whose missing or paralyzed limbs preclude standing. We sought to give a new context to the discussion from the perspective of veterans who had been largely disregarded.”
Arguably, especially given the known intensity of both fan bases playing in this year’s Super Bowl, the NFL was simply seeking to avoid any disruption of passions should the ad rub a fan the wrong way. And it’s commendable the NFL is running ads that finally express the other side of Kapernick’s protest (and it’s commendable they let Kaepernick kneel, whatever his motive. A man has a right to take a knee if he wants).
But Goodell and company still seem to be behaving as if they have more to lose by running afoul of Kapernick’s camp, which includes the player’s union and the vast left-wing media sphere, than they do the fan base and the people they count on to buy tickets to the games.
Given how many empty seats this season saw in stadium after stadium, they might want to rethink running ads that show as much deference to the men and women who sign up to serve as the ones who sign up to play.