The NFL has rejected an ad for its Super Bowl program from a veterans' group that urged fans to "Please Stand" during the National Anthem at the Feb. 4 championship game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots, according to multiple reports.
The league rejected the one-page ad from AMVETS because it was a "political statement," USA Today reported.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told the paper in an email: "The Super Bowl game program is designed for fans to commemorate and celebrate the game, players, teams, and the Super Bowl. It's never been a place for advertising that could be considered by some as a political statement."
But in a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday, AMVETS National Commander Marion Polk wrote freedom of speech "works both ways," ABC News reported. "We respect the rights of those who choose to protest, (but) imposing corporate censorship to deny those same rights to those veterans who have secured it for all is reprehensible."
The ad flap is the latest chapter in a battle that began during the 2016 season, when then-San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick began taking a knee during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner to protest racism in America.
President Donald Trump dove headlong into the issue this fall, when he said team owners should fire players who kneel during the Anthem.
McCarthy told USA Today the league tried to work out a compromise with AMVETS, but could not reach an agreement before the magazine went to press.
"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," McCarthy said.
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