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CBS rejected this patriotic pro-flag Super Bowl ad from veteran-owned Nine Line

Nine Line Apparel in Savannah, Ga. (Courtesy of Nine Line Apparel)
February 04, 2019

A patriotic pro-flag Super Bowl commercial from veteran-owned and -operated Nine Line Apparel company was reportedly rejected by the network that televised the big game on Sunday, and it has left many in the community wondering why.

Nine Line posted its 45-second commercial to YouTube on Saturday ahead of the Super Bowl, which was broadcast by the CBS network. The commercial already has more than a quarter million views on YouTube.

Watch it here:

CBS reportedly rejected Nine Line’s ad because the network didn’t believe the company would be able to pay for it, the Washington Examiner reported. However, a CBS spokesperson reportedly told USA Today Sports’ “For the Win” that the ad was never rejected.

Nine Line Apparel CEO and co-founder Tyler Merritt told American Military News that he believes the ad was rejected because of its “patriotic, pro-flag message.”

Nine Line Apparel confirmed to American Military News on Monday that CBS cited “credit issues” as the reason for the denial.

“However, we provided credit references to them who promptly and honestly replied to CBS inquiries that Nine Line Apparel always fulfilled contracts and financial obligations in full and on time,” Nine Line said. “Our gross revenue is also a matter of public record ($25 million last year alone). We also reached out to our financial advisors and partners and not one of them stated that they were contacted by anyone from CBS.”

“We find it very hard to believe that our ad could be denied due to credit issues when, clearly, we can afford the spot. There is no real evidence to the contrary,” Nine Line added.

“Don’t ask if your loyalty is crazy,” the commercial begins. “Ask if your loyalty is crazy enough.”

This line takes a stab at Nike’s ad campaign from last year that featured football player Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick started the trend of kneeling in protest during the national anthem and later appeared in an ad campaign for Nike in a video saying, “So don’t ask if your dreams are crazy. Ask if they are crazy enough.”

Nine Line’s commercial is narrated by Benghazi survivor and U.S. Marine Mark Geist, who continues, “When they question you running toward danger for those who are unable or unwilling … When they laugh at the thought of you willingly sacrificing your life for someone you may never know – stay that way. Some people think you’re crazy being loyal, defending the Constitution, standing for the flag. Then I guess I’m crazy.”

“And for those who kneel, they fail to understand that they can kneel, that they can protest, that they can despise what I stand for – even hate the truth that I speak – but they can only do that because I am crazy enough,” Geist concludes.

Merritt also appeared on Fox and Friends to discuss the commercial and its rejection. Nine Line posted the Fox clip to its Facebook page on Monday with the caption, “We will NEVER apologize for our love of country.”

Watch the interview here:

“I find it somewhat offensive,” Merritt said on Fox. “We’re a very successful company. Over the last five years, we’ve made over $75 million – $25 million last year. This is all public record. They can easily look up online and see some of our revenue gains. That wasn’t asked. They asked for our clip, and we submitted it.”

Merritt said the commercial features Geist because he’s “someone we believe embodies what sacrifice truly means,” as opposed to Kaepernick, whom Merritt says “embodies divisiveness.”

The controversy over players kneeling during the national anthem has somewhat dwindled, and Merritt says that’s “a positive sign.”

“When this thing began, the idea was, how do we bring people together to understand it’s about respect – that it’s about understanding both sides,” he said on Fox. “With this specific issue, as a veteran, I take offense.”

Merritt also said that children are taught to take their hats off and show respect during the anthem.

“It’s not a time for politics,” he said of the anthem. “Nike decided to take a stand, and so did we – to just stand. It’s iconic and it hit home.”

In September 2018, Nine Line called out Nike over its ad campaign featuring Kaepernick saying that to believe in something means “sacrificing everything.” Nine Line even sold “Just Stand” shirts, a direct shot at Nike, its “Just Do It” slogan and its support of Kaepernick.

Merritt told American Military News at the time that the ad, which features the phrase “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything,” is “disgraceful.”

“This isn’t a new stance,” he said at the time. “Ever since he [Kaepernick] took a knee, we’ve been adamant about our opinions on the matter and how we feel.”

Merritt is a former Apache helicopter pilot and Special Operations Air Mission Commander in the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR) who has deployed numerous times to Iraq, Afghanistan, the Arabian Peninsula and South America in support of special operations. He was awarded the Bronze Star and numerous air medals for his actions in combat.

The issue of kneeling during the national anthem in protest become a polarizing topic, and Merritt had said in September that Kaepernick wasn’t sacrificing anything, whereas so many in the military community have literally given their lives in sacrifice to this country and its freedoms.

“I wanted a response to Nike’s ridiculous commercial about sacrifice. That no, this is what it means to truly stand,” Merritt said on Fox. “I would challenge CBS this year, that for the upcoming Super Bowl [in 2020], I will prepay for next year’s Super Bowl ad. Charge me, and let me put a solid commercial in your hands.”

“Maybe next year we’ll be able to air it if we can make a loud enough buzz,” he added on Fox.

Merritt also told American Military News, “CBS’s purported reason for rejecting a Super Bowl commercial that extols patriotism is totally out of bounds. Let’s call this what it is: a blatant attempt to censor a message that their politically correct executives find offensive. We urge Americans who believe it’s important to show respect for our flag and national anthem to join us in calling out this offensive bias. It’s time to give a penalty flag to CBS.”