NFL denies Daniel Defense Super Bowl commercial: Please review the play

The NFL refused to air the Daniel Defense commercial during the Super Bowl because they manufacture firearms and firearm accessories. Photo: Daniel Defense commercial

WASHINGTON, December 3, 2013 — The NFL has told Fox to refuse airtime for the Daniel Defense commercial which was to air during the Super Bowl. Daniel Defense is a manufacturer of firearms and firearms accessories. Their most popular products are their AR-15 rifles and carbines, a style of rifle which has come under fire, yes under fire, for both appearing and functioning too much like its military counterpart the M-4. 

According to the NFL, Daniel Defense cannot submit for commercial time during the Super Bowl because their products do not reflect the message that the NFL wants to send. According to their regulations… “Firearms, ammunition or other weapons are prohibited; however, stores that sell firearms and ammunitions (e.g., outdoor stores and camping stores) will be permitted, provided they sell other products and the ads do not mention firearms, ammunition or other weapons.”

Let’s get this straight. The NFL, which is a tax exempt organization despite the fact that they rake in billions of dollars, has denied Daniel Defense, a Georgia brick and mortar business, the right to advertise during the Super Bowl because it violates their no firearms rule. Despite the fact that the commercial does not feature a weapon or cartridge of ammunition, the NFL still denied their commercial. The League pointed out to the fact that the Daniel Defense logo was in fact a rifle, and when the company replied that they would take out the rifle and replace it with an American flag, they were still barred from giving the NFL money.

So why? Why would the NFL still refuse to take this commercial?

Could it be because they are afraid that in a rising anti-gun climate that they will be seen as promoting violence or taking sides, causing many to complain to the NFL that they are choosing sides?

If that is the reason, it backfired. By refusing to air the commercial, they can and are seen as choosing sides. But who knows, maybe they are worried about companies with anti-gun sentiments pulling advertising from future programs.

Maybe they are worried about appearing to promote a climate of violence?

Well, considering that the game of football is quite violent on its own right, perhaps the NFL should halt itself from throwing stones at other people’s glass houses.

Could it be that because of all of the gun charges and criminal trouble rampant in the NFL, they do not want to further promote a culture of gun violence?

There are a few responses to that, one is that if guns are good enough to be carried by the honor guard for the Flag detail then they are good enough to be on a commercial. If men and women with guns are posted at security checkpoints around the stadium and on the field then the very tool they carry that makes them such effective deterrents should be able to be advertised during their program.

Could it be that the NFL does not want to be associated with a product category that is nationally perceived as responsible for thousands of deaths per year?

If you look at the 2010 leading causes for death in the United States, that is the top 10 causes, firearms does not even enter into the mix. The top three are heart disease (597,689 deaths), cancer (574,743 deaths), and lower respiratory illness (138,080).

The leading cause of heart disease is inactivity, and many Americans are guilty of it. Inactivity say from, watching football on TV or any other kind of prolonged athletic event. Another cause of heart disease is say eating fatty foods, such as McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, and KFC, all of which have seen advertising time on NFL programs.

Soda consumption is also on the list of factors which contribute to heart disease and diabetes, both of which claimed over 650,000 lives in 2011. However, the NFL has granted PepsiCo extensive advertising time for the 2014 Super Bowl, despite the health warnings against soda consumption. Is also does not help their case that both Butterfinger and Mars both have secured advertising space.

What else? Oh that’s right, General Motors was also able to secure advertising space, despite the fact that motor vehicle accidents claim the lives of 34,000 people in 2012, which is actually far more than firearms are able to take credit for because everyone knows inanimate machines kill people, not living, breathing humans.

But what else could it be?

The Super Bowl is going to be aired on Fox, and Fox is a conservative leaning network. Couldn’t they fight back on this?

No, probably not, networks kill for the Superbowl  and it’s not probable that Fox would put up a fight on this and risk some sort of breach of contract or legal battle. There are plenty of other girls lined up to dance.

So what else?

Oh that’s right! You know Comcast? The giant national cable provider? They happen to own NBC Universal, who happen to be a big carrier of NFL games during the regular season, remember Bob Costas? Comcast, after acquiring NBC earlier in 2013, extended their newly acquired companies policy of banning the advertisement of firearms or ammunition in any program that goes through a Comcast box. Oh, and also they own Telemundo who also happens to be an NFL carrier.

Comcast also happens to have donated over $300,000 to Barack Obama’s reelection campaign. If you don’t recall, Barack Obama is the delightful fellow who has some reservations over the 2nd Amendment and its application to modern day America.

So perhaps Comcast, being the 2nd largest media conglomerate in the World in terms of revenue and a large carrier of NFL games, put the pressure on the NFL to deny Daniel Defense their air time? Who knows? And one could argue that Comcast would never drop the NFL from their lineup, but there are other consequences.

Lastly, the NFL, not the teams, the league organization, has recently come under fire from the public for enjoying tax exempt status despite the fact that they rake in roughly $25 billion. Of course there are arguments to be made that their tax exempt classification is based off of the promotion of an athletic league, which they do quite well and that is not what is being questioned here. But perhaps knowing that many are calling for the revocation of their tax exempt status, they do not want to anger the public by calling their objectivity into question.

They also probably don’t want to give anti-gun politicians a reason to look into their tax status. The gun issue is a massive 55grain gorilla in Washington, and the anti-gunners are very quick to single out and attack politicians who appear to be pro-gun, as well as businesses. It is possible that the NFL simply does not want to appear pro-gun in an attempt to protect their tax exempt status.

In the end, there are dozens of explanations for the NFL refusal to air the commercial.

The problem here is that the reason they gave was terrible, and their second refusal after Daniel Defense raises further questions. There isn’t even an image of a gun in the revised commercial; there is barely a reference to one.

The fact that the NFL has refused to accept the millions of dollars that Daniel Defense is willing to fork over for a minute long Super Bowl commercial should speak volumes as to the actual reason behind their decision.  



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Conor Higgins

Conor Higgins has a B.A. from Catholic University in DC in American History, with a concentration on guerrilla warfare on American soil. He has an M.A. in US History from George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, with a concentration on Cold War insurgency. He believes that all news and all information should be taken with a grain of salt, and implores people everywhere to seek news stories everywhere. 

Higgins is also a fervent believer in the traditional role of media, in terms of acting as a balanced check on government policies and individuals regardless of party affiliation. But in the end, he believes that no matter how heated an issue is, there is nothing that can't be discussed over a smoke and some whiskey. 

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