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NFL Refuses to Run Ad to Recruit Border Agents

Justin Rood
The Blotter

Tuesday, February 13, 2007  

The National Football League refused to include a print ad recruiting U.S. Border Patrol agents in its 2007 official Super Bowl program because they were uncomfortable with "the sensitive political nature" of the spot, according to a league spokesman.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which oversees the Border Patrol, had offered to pay for the advertisment, which was part of a campaign to boost the number of agents by 18,000. But money wasn't the issue, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told ABC News.

The ad "was specific to border patrol and mentioned terro rists," he said. "The game was in Miami, where [immigration] is a sensitive political issue...[it] made us a little bit uncomfortable."

Aiello said the league's discomfort stemmed from the ad's mention of terrorism in a program for the high-profile event as well as how it intertwined terrorism and immigration.

The league told DHS it would be willing to run a more generic recruiting ad but never received a response to the offer. "We take recruiting ads from the military that are generic," said Aiello. "We were willing to take one from DHS."

The issue came to the attention of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who raised it before Congress last week. "We tried to put an ad in the...Super Bowl program this year, and it was rejected, much to my chagrin," he told a panel of lawmakers.

DHS spokesman Mike Friel said he could not confirm the NFL had offered to take a "more generic" ad. He said that other organizations had accepted the same ad the NFL rejected, including the NBA, which ran the advertisement in its official program for its annual All-Star Game, the NCAA, which will publish it in programs for its Final Four championship tournament and "Pro BullRider" magazine.

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