National Football League rejects veterans group ad against flag protests

Fans waited outside U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis

Bruce Kluckhohn Associated Press file Fans waited outside US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis

The ad says "Please Stand" with a picture of a service member saluting the American flag.

Upon getting the initial notice on Friday, AMVETS national director Joe Chenelly said he was "shocked and disappointed" that the NFL will not be using their ad.

In a recent letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, AMVETS national commander Marion Polk said that while his group was "well aware of the controversy surrounding players kneeling during the national anthem and the public relations problems this has caused the NFL, our ad is neither a demand nor a judgment upon those who choose to kneel".

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USA Today reported the league rejected the one-page ad from AMVETS because it was a "political statement", USA Today reported.

The ad, which was to be featured in the Super Bowl program, contained the phrase, "Please Stand".

National Football League spokesman Brian McCarthy addressed the issue in a statement.

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The decision not to allow the ad is going to backfire on the NFL. "But imposing corporate censorship to deny the same rights to those veterans who have have secured it for us all is reprehensible and totally beyond the pale".

In 2016, Kaepernick hijacked NFL games when he refused to stand for the national anthem. It was the league's seal of approval and although it would lead to falling ratings, it was at least an unofficial part of the NFL policy to tacitly encourage the disrespect to the flag and to the military.

The ad -submitted by pro-veteran's organization AMVETS- urged all those attending the big game to remain standing as the "Star-Spangled Banner" rings out inside the arena. "AMVETS then asked if the ad could also include the hashtag "#PleaseStand", but was told it was too late in the production process to approve the ad.

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The organization noted that the same advertisement was accepted by the national hockey and basketball leagues (the NHL and NBA) and is slated to run during the organization's all-star games. "The organization did not respond and the program ultimately went into production to meet deadlines". As an organization, AMVETS never called for a boycott of the National Football League, but some of their posts stopped showing the games, Chenelly said. Other players later joined the protest, which has decimated the NFL's popularity among fans and crushed its TV ratings. In mid-2017, professional athletes across the NFL and other sports initially took a knee during the national anthem in brazen rejection of President Donald Trump calling NFL protesters, such as former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, "sons of bitches" who need to be fired.

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