While it is acceptable for the NFL to allow professional football players to protest while on-the-job and during the National Anthem, the football organization rejected a paid ad from AMVETS, a 75-year-old American Veterans service organization with 250,000 members nationwide, according to the Mt. Vernon Register-News. The group sought to have a clear and concise message conveyed within its Super Bowl program advertisement. Whether the ad is a reminder or a statement, the message is polite: “Please Stand,” encouraging people to rise for the national anthem.

People have heard the exact same message relayed at sporting events and other venues: “Please stand for the national anthem.” There is nothing new in that, but there is eloquence in the simplicity of the ad that the NFL deemed suitable for censorship.

NFL’s aim to change veterans’ words proved futile

According to the National Commander at AMVETS, Marion Polk, the NFL opined that the AMVETS print ad was not “appropriate” for printing in Super Bowl 52’s program, WSAV reported. Would the NFL like to add salt to the spin it gave in determining that the veterans’ ad needed a re-write? AMVETS held its position and refused to censor its message – and rightfully so.

The men and women who give of themselves, making incalculable and priceless sacrifices for America while striving to safeguard its freedoms, should not be asked or expected to surrender a right engrained in the Constitution that their lives of service embody.

But the NFL sees nothing wrong with asking veterans to give up their freedom of expression.

Brian McCarthy, the NFL spokesman, issued a statement in which he said that the Super Bowl’s print program has “never” been an outlet for ads that “could be” construed by people as a “political statement,” WSAV also wrote. McCarthy pointed out that the NFL has been a “long-time” supporter of the military and its veterans.

And, likewise, veterans have supported the NFL, which has sanctioned demonstrations against the ideas and core beliefs veterans represent. The on-field protests during the national anthem were the tipping point.

Despite the NFL’s stance, Super Bowl LII is inherently political

Football players are paid for their athleticism – during a sporting event, a pastime, a diversion, or, for many, a distraction from other, more serious issues in life.

Let’s not forget: Football is a game. The protests take away from the purpose of why so many watched prior to the NFL allowing the protests to snowball to the point that millions of people felt the disrespect -- displayed toward the flag and the national anthem -- on a visceral level.

To state that the Super Bowl (especially this year) is apolitical is endemic with saying Kim Jong-un loves the President of the United States. Did the NFL have a collective lapse of recall? After all, both teams wear helmets bearing emblems that could not possibly be more symbolic of the nation. Everyone can see the bald eagle and the flag. The patriotic symbolism cannot be missed. Inherent in the logos are facets of our nation’s history, dating back to colonial days.

AMVETS ‘First Amendment rights’ violated by NFL

The NFL asked AMVETS to opt for wording the print ad differently, according to the Register and additional news agencies. An alternative was to ask people to stand “For Our Veterans.” Accepting the NFL’s wording over the veterans’ preference, however, amounts to censorship.

The communications director for AMVETS, John Hoellwarth, explained that the NFL’s word-choice differed in the respect that the statement could be interpreted figuratively while the AMVETS’ preference would not have been subject to a loss in meaning. The message of the veterans group’s ad was literal, asking people to stand for the national anthem.

Polk assessed the NFL’s stance and stated that "AMVETS First Amendment rights were violated” as a result of the NFL “not running our ad the way we wanted it,” WSAV relayed.

Among those who have opted out of watching the Super Bowl is Michael Williams, a gubernatorial contender in Georgia. He is “done” with the NFL, according to New York Magazine. In elaborating on his decision, he relayed that players are “overpaid crybabies” who don’t “deserve" his patronage.

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