By Debbie Gregory.
Although the National Football League (NFL) has taken some heat for the #PleaseStand controversy, the league has announced plans to honor veterans during Super Bowl LII.
The brouhaha began when the NFL rejected an ad for the Super Bowl program from AMVETS that featured the American flag, saluting soldiers and the words “Please Stand,” urging players and fans to stand during the national anthem. The ad was in direct opposition to the movement of NFL players protesting racial inequality and injustice by kneeling during the performance of the National Anthem before the start of games.
NFL Vice President of Communications Brian McCarthy said the programs should not be used for political messaging. AMVETS declined the opportunity to amend their ad.
Controversy aside, the participation of 15 Medal of Honor (MoH) recipients from WWII, Vietnam and Afghanistan may be one of best parts of the Super Bowl.
WWII Medal of Honor recipient Hershel “Woody” Williams, 94, will flip the coin that gives the winning captain the opportunity to elect to kick off or receive. Williams will be surrounded by fellow MoH recipients from the Vietnam War: Bennie Adkins, Army; Don Ballard, Navy; Sammy Davis, Army; Roger Donlon, Army; Tom Kelley, Navy; Allan Kellogg, Marines; Gary Littrell, Army; Walter Marm, Army; Robert Patterson, Army; and James Taylor, Army.
MoH recipients from Afghanistan who will be participating are: Sal Giunta, Army; Flo Groberg, Army; Leroy Petry, Army; and Clint Romesha, Army.
“These courageous individuals deserve to be recognized on America’s biggest stage,” said Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner.
The NFL’s military appreciation initiative “Salute to Service” has been running all season. The league also partners with military nonprofits Pat Tillman Foundation, TAPS, USO, and Wounded Warrior Project.