NFL rejects Super Bowl program ad submitted by vets' group, group rejects compromise

One veterans’ group is upset after the NFL rejected its proposal for a one-page ad in the program for Super Bowl LII, and according to the NFL, the group rejected its proposal for a compromise.

The group AMVETS submitted an ad with the message “#PleaseStand,” and also included instructions on how to donate to AMVETS.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy explained in an email to USA Today that the league tries to keep the commemorative game program apolitical, and noted the NFL’s long-established support of the military and veterans.

“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.”

A veterans group is angry with the NFL over a proposed ad in the Super Bowl LII commemorative program. (AP)
A veterans group is angry with the NFL over a proposed ad in the Super Bowl LII commemorative program. (AP)

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As evidence of that, the government shutdown last weekend initially meant that troops stationed overseas wouldn’t be able to watch the Armed Services Network and thus the AFC and NFC championship games; the league worked a deal to make sure that they still could.

Joe Chenelly, the executive director of AMVETS, said just as players who kneel during the anthem are exercising their free speech, his group wanted to do the same.

“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.”

According to the AMVETS website, the Americanism program is for schools and youth programs, and teaches lessons like American heritage, civics and citizenship.

In our opinion, the ad, which AMVETS posted online, looks more like a request for donations than a promotion of a children’s program, but we digress.

McCarthy said the NFL approved an ad from the VFW that includes the tagline, “We Stand for Veterans” and text describing the benefits the VFW offers.

When AMVETS submitted its ad last Wednesday, McCarthy said the league tried to work with the group to consider other phrasing options slightly different than “Please Stand.”

“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 (“#PleaseStand”) 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.”

Ads in the commemorative Super Bowl program are sold by a third-party company, but the NFL approves them before the book goes to production. The full-page ad would have cost $30,000.

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