The NFL has turned into a political sideshow over the past two seasons — and when it comes to this year’s Super Bowl, the league has shown it’s not supportive of those whose political opinions differ from its own narrative.
This week, American Veterans (AMVETS), a national veterans group, said the NFL denied it the opportunity to show an ad during the Super Bowl because of two words: “Please stand.” The group’s ad reportedly urges NFL players to stand for the national anthem before games — an action that’s somehow controversial in the NFL now that more and more players have chosen to kneel during “The Star-Spangled Banner” rather than stand in respect.
Fox News reported the group wanted to buy a full-page ad in the official Super Bowl 52 program using the words, “Please stand,” to encourage people to show some respect for the national anthem. The ad would have shown a color guard unit holding the American flag. The point of the potential advertisement was to ultimately solicit donations for the group.
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An NFL official told Fox News the ad was rejected due to its political nature.
“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,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told Fox News.
That statement from McCarthy is loaded with rich irony.
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“This is an unbelievable way to undermine the audience,” author and EWTN managing editor Raymond Arroyo said on “The Ingraham Angle,” Tuesday night on Fox News, about the NFL’s decision. “At a time when the audience is rebelling against you every week, and ticket sales are down, the NFL said it’s too political. That’s not true.”
Players in the league make a political statement every single Sunday because they are allowed to kneel during the singing of the national anthem. This extremely negative optic for the league has caused its ratings to drop by more than 15 percent over the past two seasons.
“That ‘please stand’ ad puts up a mirror to the NFL, and they don’t like what they see,” host Laura Ingraham said on Tuesday night. “They don’t want to be called on what they did to themselves — and what they did to a game I love. They made a big mistake. Those veterans should fly a banner over the stadium, if they allow it.”
The league has not objected to left-wing political ads in the past. Just last year, there were plenty of anti-Trump ads shown on television during the Super Bowl. The most notable one came from 84 Lumber, a group that unashamedly seemed to advocate for illegal immigration, which might not be the best way to win over manual laborers — their target audience.
Plus, nearly two years ago, the 2016 Super Bowl featured Beyoncé honoring the Black Panther Party and performing a “black power” salute during the halftime show.
This NFL aim of “avoiding political statements” seems to apply only to those on the Right. After all, the league also rejected the Dallas Cowboys’ past request to wear helmet decals honoring five slain Dallas police officers in 2016.
This most recent incident only further proves the point of those who say the league does not show America’s troops, our first responders, our country, and scores and scores of fans the respect they deserve.
Tom Joyce is a freelance writer from the South Shore of Massachusetts. He covers sports, pop culture, and politics and has contributed to The Federalist, Newsday, ESPN, and other outlets.