The ad read “#PleaseStand.”
In recent weeks, the NFL has tried to move away from the national anthem protests that have dominated headlines the 2017-18 season so far. The high point came in Week 3, when dozens of players protested for social justice and against incendiary comments made by President Donald Trump at a rally in Huntsville, Alabama.
Trump told the audience he’d love to see an owner chastise a protesting player by saying, “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired!”
By the final game of the regular season, only about 20 players sat or kneeled during the national anthem. The decrease in protests has been attributed to the NFL’s announcement that it would commit $90 million to social justice causes over the next seven years.
Photo (cropped) by Keith Allison/Flickr.
In an effort to dampen the anthem controversy, the league has rejected a print ad for its official Super Bowl LII program. An advertisement proposed by AMVETS, a veterans service organization, featured an American flag with a headline that read “#PleaseStand.” The ad also featured instructions for donating $20 to the organization.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told USA Today the ad was rejected to keep the commemorative program apolitical. “The Super Bowl game program is designed for fans to commemorate and celebrate the game, players, teams, and the Super Bowl,” McCarthy wrote. “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.”
AMVETS executive director Joe Chenelly told USA Today that his organization only wanted to exercise its free speech just like the protesters. “The protests are very much out of our purview,” Chenelly 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.”