Border Patrol Ad Too Tough for NFL Publication

By Fred Lucas | July 7, 2008 | 8:06pm EDT

( - For the rough and tumble National Football League, a recruitment ad for the U.S. Border Patrol was deemed "too hard-hitting."

The agency tasked to protect the land and sea borders of the United States sought to buy print advertising in the 242-page program for Super Bowl XLI, sold at the stadium on game day and over the Internet. The program featured articles on the teams and players, interspersed among ads for credit cards, beer, soft drinks, hotels and laundry detergent.

"It's a light-hearted publication," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told Cybercast News Service.

The Border Patrol recruitment ad, on the other hand, was anything but lighthearted, McCarthy said, explaining the NFL's decision to reject it.

"As Border Patrol agents, it'll be your responsibility to prevent the entry of terrorists and their weapons into the United States," it said.

"You'll help detect and prevent the unlawful entry of undocumented aliens into the U.S. and apprehend violators of our immigration laws. In addition to those important duties, you'll play a primary role in stopping drug smuggling along our borders."

The NFL offered the federal agency a chance to submit an alternative ad, McCarthy said.

"Something less hard-hitting or jarring would have been accepted," he said. "This particular ad brought readers into territory they were not necessarily ready for."

Further, the NFL didn't want to appear as if they were taking a side in the debate over illegal immigration, McCarthy added.

"We don't take a position on this. We're sitting on the 50-yard line," he said. "The language in this particular ad was too hard-hitting."

Thus far, the NFL is the only sports league to reject the ad.

The National Basketball Association will feature the ad in its program for the NBA All Star Game, while the publications for NCAA Final Four and Pro Bull Rider magazine will also carry the ad, said Mike Friel, spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the agency that oversees the Border Patrol.

Friel told Cybercast News Service the NFL's response had been disappointing.

"We thought this would be a great opportunity to get the word out about great careers in securing the border," he said.

Friel said he could not confirm whether the NFL asked the agency to submit another ad, but saw no reason why an ad for border agent recruitment should not advertise what border agents do.

"The central mission of agents is to deny terrorists and weapons entry into this country," he said. "We exist to protect the borders."

There's nothing controversial about such an ad, said T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, a union for border patrol agents.

"None of this makes any sense. Securing the borders is not a controversial issue," Bonner told Cybercast News Service. "Everyone - well most people - support the Border Patrol."

Bonner doesn't see any problem with an ad featuring what agents do since protecting the country against drug smuggling and terrorism, and against illegal immigration in general, is vital.

"The president of the United States ... came out and said we need more Border Patrol agents," Bonner said. "We're not asking them to run it for free. We were going to pay them."

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