Is the NFL hypocritical for banning this gun commercial from airing during the Super Bowl?

The Super Bowl is only a few months away, which means that it’s time for companies looking to advertise during America’s most popular sporting event to start making their pitches. Unfortunately for the gun selling company Daniel Defense, their proposed ad won’t make it onto your TV during Super Bowl Sunday.

Why? Because the NFL has banned the ad – likely because they don’t want to put themselves in the middle of a gun-safety debate, especially after the several gun-related incidents surrounding NFL players over the past few years.

But does banning the ad make them hypocritical? Consider the fact that the Super Bowl is a hotbed for alcohol commercials and the league has had a bevy of alcohol-related problems lately as well. Consider the fact that the sport is heavily predicated upon violence and causing serious long-term medical issues among its players. Consider the fact that the league has allowed commercials to air in the past (including movie trailers) in which people are actually seen firing weapons.

There is a firearms portion of the NFL’s Prohibited Advertising Categories, which states:

“5. 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.”

You can make the case that this Daniel Defense ad is clearly intended for the sale of firearms and ammunition, but the store does in fact sell other products (such as clothing) and the ad doesn’t specially mention firearms or ammunition – meaning it should qualify for eligibility. Daniel Defense also reportedly ran a commercial in local Georgia markets during the 2012 Super Bowl on NBC, with no objection from the NFL.

Nobody really wants to see the Super Bowl turn into a political debate forum, but you also have to consider that the league and CBS allowed an anti-abortion ad featuring Tim Tebow to air a handful of years ago.

There’s a compelling argument that the league was wrong in banning the Daniel Defense ad and, judging by the initial response to the news of the league’s ruling, it seems like many disagree with their decision. If the league was hoping to avoid controversy by banning this commercial, it looks like they may have done just the opposite.

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Pete Blackburn
Founder & lead editor of The Nosebleeds. Journalism graduate of Endicott College, Class of 2013. Boston born & raised. Lover of sports, binge television watching, music that doesn't suck & everything '90s. Not a tall drink of water. Follow @PeteBlackburn