PETA claims NFL blocked a Colin Kaepernick-themed Super Bowl commercial featuring animals kneeling

MIAMI — In one of the more interesting instances of co-opting the social justice movement sparked by Colin Kaepernick, the animal rights organization PETA claims the NFL has spiked a submission for an animated Super Bowl commercial that would have featured animals taking a knee with a message of “End Speciesism”.

The one-minute spot — which PETA claims was submitted for consideration and ultimately snubbed by the league and FOX network, which is broadcasting the Super Bowl — features a variety of kneeling creatures, including a bee, a bear, fish and a bald eagle, overlaid with a vocal humming of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” At the end of the spot, the feature delivers the line: “Respect the right of every living being.”

“The National Football League apparently found our new Colin Kaepernick-inspired ad — with its message of inclusion and respect — too daring and pressured FOX to snub our commercial,” the group said in a message shared on its website. “PETA worked with a talented group of advertisers and artists who came up with the idea for our beautiful ad. Positively acknowledged by Kaepernick himself, this project pays homage to all movements that remind us to open our hearts and minds and reject all forms of injustice, including sexism, ableism, racism, ageism, homophobia, and speciesism. … The NFL may be unconcerned with inequality, but we at PETA are activists who will continue to work to dismantle all forms oppression.”

PETA offered no evidence to support that the NFL played a role in passing on the commercial. An NFL spokesperson didn’t return a message from Yahoo Sports seeking comment Friday.

The animals rights group said the point of the ad was to take Kaepernick-inspired social justice movements and expand them into a space where consideration is not only raised between human beings, but also how humans treat other species.

“PETA is challenging speciesism, which is a supremacist worldview that allows humans to disrespect other living, feeling beings and to treat their interests as unimportant,” PETA president Ingrid Newkirk said in a statement. “Our patriotic Super Bowl spot envisions an America in which no sentient being is oppressed because of how they look, where they were born, who they love, or what species they are. It sends a message of kindness — one that the NFL should embrace, not silence.”

Over the years, both the NFL and its Super Bowl partners have controversially spiked advertisements, both on television and in printed materials surrounding the game. More often than not, the advertisements are ones that either don’t meet the standards and practices requirements of the network or don’t fit the mood the NFL attempts to strike on its biggest stage. One of the more recent brushfires surrounding spiked advertising occurred in the run-up to Super Bowl LII, when the league rejected a “please stand” ad for its gameday program. The printed advertisement was submitted by the national veteran’s nonprofit organization AMVETS, which took an opposite angle on the social justice kneeling trend that swept through the league in 2017 and 2018. The ad featured a photo of a service veteran with the American flag and message of “#PleaseStand”.

After rejecting the ad, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy issued a statement from the league, declaring: “The Super Bowl game program is designed for fans to commemorate and celebrate the game, players, teams and the Super Bowl. It’s never been a place for advertising that could be considered by some as a political statement.”

It should be noted, Sunday’s broadcast will feature two ads from candidates running for president: President Donald Trump and Mike Bloomberg.

While the league hasn’t commented on PETA’s recent claims, McCarthy’s previous statement would appear to apply to animal rights activism as well.

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