NFL Bans Super Bowl Gun Commercial: Throwing the Flag on Hypocrisy


The NFL is not allowing a gun seller to air its ad during the Super Bowl.

The ban supposedly runs afoul of the NFL’s rules, which state, “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.”

Daniel Defense has a store, it sells other products, and the ad does not mention weapons, although its logo does contain a rifle.

The commercial, in which a man who is home from active military service takes responsibility for protecting his family, is benign. In fact, it is less violent than what will take place during the actual Super Bowl and in most of the game’s Doritos commercials.

It’s hard to square the NFL’s commercial ban against violent products when the NFL itself is a violent product.

In the last year the sad and tragic health problems and deaths of former NFL players who are suffering from brain trauma have received a lot of attention.

We have learned that:

There is more. Some of the anecdotes are shocking, and many are heartbreaking, and they have led me to question whether I should continue to watch the NFL. It’s clear that many former NFL players are suffering, and the link between their pain and their days spent in uniform is strong. Many commentators are speculating for the first time about the long-term viability of professional football.

The NFL does not wish to be associated with guns, which is misguided, because safety—clearly something the NFL has yet to take seriously—is the defining characteristic of gun culture. If you’ve taken a firearms training class or been to private or government target range, you know this. In the United States, there are an estimated 270 million firearms. In 2010, there were 8,775 homicides committed with guns. That number is awful and sad. In a perfect world it would be zero. For the sake of argument, let’s say each gun used to kill someone was used once. That means the guns that were used to kill accounted for .003 percent of all guns.

There’s no way of knowing yet what percentage of former NFL players suffer from brain damage, but I’d wager it’s more than .003 percent.

I’m not surprised the image-conscious NFL would ban a Super Bowl commercial for a company that sells firearms, but I have to question why any firearms company would want to be associated with the safety-ignorant NFL.

Unless this was all just a marketing scheme, in which case it was brilliant. The ad was seen by millions, and the NFL didn’t make a cent.

Joe Donatelli is a journalist. Follow him @joedonatelli and on Facebook

Joe Donatelli
Joe Donatelli is a writer in Los Angeles

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