The NFL rejected an for its official Super Bowl programs from the AMVETS veterans group because some might consider its message — telling football players to stand during the national anthem — a political statement.
NFL Vice President of Communications Brian McCarthy, according to ABC, said that Super Bowl programs were a place for fans to celebrate the game, players, and teams. “It has never been a place for advertising that could be considered by some as a political statement,” McCarthy said of the ad, which featured an American flag and the hashtag “#PleaseStand”:
— John Michael (@johnmichaelpix) January 23, 2018
While McCarthy didn’t accept the “Please Stand” ad submitted on Wednesday, he said the league did accept other taglines supporting veterans.
AMVETS National Commander Marion Polk blasted the decision as a form of “corporate censorship” and argued “freedom of speech works both” for football players and veterans.
“Imposing corporate censorship to deny those same rights to those veterans who have secured it for all is reprehensible,” he said.
Polk also told NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that “veterans are good for more than just military aircraft flyovers, photo opportunities during halftime, or props to sell camouflage-style NFL apparel.”
President Donald Trump created a media firestorm last year when he suggested NFL owners should say of protesting players, “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now … he’s fired.” While speaking to a crowd in Alabama in September, Trump told attendees that NFL fans should leave the stadium when players kneel during the anthem.
Goodell later lamented the controversy, saying he wanted players to stand during the national anthem. During a press conference in October, however, he said that during an annual meeting with players and owners, he didn’t ask for their commitment to stand.