Stephen Dinan and Jerry Seper, Washington Times, Feb. 14, 2007
The National Football League refused to run a recruitment ad for the U.S. Border Patrol in last week’s Super Bowl program, saying it was “controversial” because it mentioned duties such as fighting terrorism and stopping drugs and illegal aliens at the border.
“The ad that the department submitted was specific to Border Patrol, and it mentioned terrorism. We were not comfortable with that,” said Greg Aiello, a spokesman for the NFL. “The borders, the immigration debate is a very controversial issue, and we were sensitive to any perception we were injecting ourselves into that.”
The NFL’s rejection didn’t sit well with Border Patrol agents, who called it a snub of their role in homeland security and said it was “more than a little puzzling.”
“The NFL missed a golden opportunity to reach countless patriotic citizens who want to answer the call to help prevent another terrorist attack on American soil,” said T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, the union that represents the agency’s nonsupervisory personnel.
Other major leagues have had no problems running the ad, a Border Patrol spokesman said. It has been accepted to run in programs for the upcoming NBA All Star Game and the NCAA Final Four, as well as in Pro BullRider magazine, the spokesman said.
Mr. Aiello said that the NFL offered the department a chance to run a generic recruiting ad, similar to ads the U.S. military runs, but that the league never heard back from it.
“We proposed a more generic recruiting ad for the department that didn’t highlight the borders, which brings up the immigration issue and the immigration debate. That’s controversial,” he said.