By Jeremy Jacobs - 02/16/07 12:00 AM EST
Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) scolded National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell in a letter Thursday for refusing to run a Border Patrol recruitment advertisement during the Super Bowl.
Tancredo, a 2008 presidential hopeful, said not including the ad in the program "makes it appear as if the NFL opposes the Border Patrol." The lawmaker is a major supporter of increased border security and outspoken opponent of any amnesty granted to anyone who has entered the country illegally.
"I think it is a mistake to assert that the basic existence and function of the Border Patrol is so controversial as to merit an outright rejection of its proposed advertisement," he said.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the objective of the Super Bowl programming is to provide viewers with a lighthearted and fun keepsake.
"The reason [the ad wasn't included] was the language didn't fit in with the lighthearted tone of the program," he stated.
McCarthy added that the Border Patrol ad was reviewed like every other ad. Because the ad included language such as, "It'll be your responsibility to prevent the entry of terrorists and their weapons into the United States," the NFL sent the ad back to the Border Patrol and asked them to change its language. McCarthy said the Border Patrol never resubmitted the ad.
McCarthy also noted that the NFL has worked with the armed services in the past, working to create language that serves both parties' interests. In this case, the dialogue between the NFL and the Border Patrol to finalize appropriate language simply did not exist, according to McCarthy.
"We have absolutely no problem taking advertising from the Department of Homeland Security or the Border Patrol, just as we have taken ads from the armed services for many years," he said. "Had there been further dialogue with our office about the ad, we are sure that we would have quickly resolved these minor language issues. We have great respect for the Department of Homeland Security and the Border Patrol, and the important work done by each. We look forward to the opportunity to work with them in the future."
Though commonly called the Border Patrol, its former name, the agency is now U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
In his letter to Goodell, Tancredo criticized the rationale presented by another NFL spokesman, who was quoted in published reports as saying: "The ad … mentioned terrorism. We were not comfortable with that. The borders, the immigration debate is a very controversial issue, and we were sensitive to any perception we were injecting ourselves into that."
"No reasonable person believes the NFL endorses or supports the manufacturers of every product or the provider of every service that advertises in the Super Bowl program," Tancredo said.
He added that viewers certainly did not interpret the "VoteVets" ads that urged Sens. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and John Warner (R-Va.) to end the Iraq War as indicative of the NFL espousing an anti-war position.
Tancredo suggested that the NFL should guarantee the Border Patrol ad space in next year's Super Bowl and make a public statement expressing the league's support of the Border Patrol's mission.