The NFL has recently been the battleground for political speech by its players, including protesting the national anthem and making ignorant statements about politics in the United States. In a stunning move, the NFL decided that they didn’t want to allow AMVETS to run an ad in their magazine, or during the Super Bowl broadcast.
Now, Roger Goodell, the NFL Commissioner, has decided that the NFL does ‘enough’ for veterans and that he need not allow AMVETS to put either a written or video advertisement anywhere near the game asking that people stand for the national anthem.
Goodell cited the ‘political’ nature of the message and returned to a common (and dishonest) refrain that politics have no place in the NFL’s largest event (and one of the most widely-watched TV events of the year).
It’s hard to substantiate that claim, however, when singers have made political statements during the game (Beyonce’s terrible half-time show during Super Bowl L comes to mind).
It’s also hard to rationalize that statement when players have been repeatedly making tone-deaf political protests before games. They’ve spent almost two years ‘kneeling’ while the national anthem played, after all.
Some players, including a U.S. Army Ranger, were even punished by their teams for not sitting out the national anthem.
Goodell says that the NFL has done ‘enough’ for veterans already, and that “we’re going to have 15 Medal of Honor winners that we’re bringing together at the Super Bowl, which I think is the largest number of Medal of Honor winners ever brought together at any event other than their annual national gathering.”
It’s nice to see that the NFL will be having Medal of Honor winners at Super Bowl LII, truly. The fifteen men they’ll be hosting have earned it. However, 15 veterans who showed inconspicuous valor does not sound like ‘enough’ for a nation whose sons and daughters have sacrificed so much for so many.
Also, no one ‘wins’ the Medal of Honor. It’s not a prize. They earn it, like Gary Gordon earned it, or like Randy Shughart earned it, fighting by a crashed helicopter in Mogadishu until they ran out of ammo and were overrun. It’s an award earned with blood and grit, and sometimes with the recipients’ lives.
It is not ‘won,’ like some tawdry sporting event.
It would be easier to substantiate the idea that the NFL does ‘enough’ for veterans, if not for the fact that the Department of Defense and various veterans’ charities essentially pay the NFL for many of the things ‘they’ do.
Those wonderful patriotic displays where soldiers take the field or Navy SEALs showcase their talents and deliver the ball, or where the Army’s elite parachute team delivers the game ball?
The NFL is PAID to hold these events. The NFL is PAID to have events for people returning from deployments. It is part of the annual Department of Defense budget.
To Goodell’s credit, it’s true, they did allow one ad from the VFW for the program. That ad was so inoffensive that the NFL likely couldn’t figure out any way to exclude it.
The NFL generally prohibits ‘political statements’ (except mediocre musicians) during their Super Bowl broadcasts. Most notably, they have denied pro-life groups from being able to buy and utilize ad space during the Super Bowl, citing the same rule.
Actually, that’s the only other time the rule was cited. However, it’s fine for Beyonce to use the half-time show for Super Bowl L to push her political views, and to make an overt political statement.
It sounds less like the NFL is enforcing a rule uniformly, and more like they’re using the ‘rule’ to reject political statements they don’t like.
Goodell has been kowtowing to leftist football players and wannabe social justice activists all year, including stating that he will spend money in various ways they demanded in order to lessen the protests.
This is part of the reason that the ratings for NFL viewership this year are on the decline, and why ticket and merchandise sales have been slipping.
American citizens have had enough of being told what they should think by celebrities. No one has ever tuned in to a football game for political commentary.
They tuned in to watch a game, plain and simple.
Many of these athletes making political statements before games are not politically knowledgeable or well-versed, adding insult to injury for viewers.
Indeed, many people who play in the NFL only received a college degree because they could throw a ball. They are not the next ‘great thinkers’ of the nation; they are athletes playing a game.
In many cases, if not for the NFL, these players would be employed in menial labor.
If Goodell wants to claim that the advertisement was barred because it was too political, that’s his right. He should also stand behind it, whatever the outcome.
However, his actions in the past have said otherwise, and the NFL has willingly engaged the services of people who made political statements during the game and its events.
Perhaps the Department of Defense and veteran’s charities should stop supporting the NFL and see what kind of impact that has on the ‘rule’ about ‘political’ statements and how it is utilized.