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Politics or payment? Savannah CEO says finances just a CBS excuse to reject Super Bowl ad

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A Savannah business known for its pro-military products says CBS refused to air its commercial, so it put it on YouTube instead. In the last week, it has been watched more than 700,000 times.

In the middle of the NFL tumult over kneeling during the national anthem, Nine Line Apparel created the spot with the hopes of debuting it during the Super Bowl.

“Some people think you’re crazy, being loyal, standing for the national anthem,” the commercial says.

Later, narrator Mark Geist, a Marine veteran who fought in Benghazi, says he hopes people know that “they can kneel, and they can protest” only because of the sacrifice of members of the military.

The commercial’s refrain of “I guess I’m crazy” echos a Nike commercial in which quarterback Colin Kaepernick says, “Don’t ask if your dreams are crazy. Ask if they are crazy enough.”

On Friday, Feb. 1, just two days before the Super Bowl, an email from CBS informed Nine Line that its ad was rejected for financial reasons.

A copy of the email was provided to The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette, though the identity of the person who sent the email was redacted.

“We still have one reference that has not come in, however, with the information we do have on hand, it is our recommendation that credit cannot be granted at this time,” the email reads.

Nine Line CEO Tyler Merritt said he believes the ad was rejected not because of finances but because of its content.

“I’m 100 percent positive,” he said.

He explained that Nine Line not only has the means to pay but would have been willing to pay upfront.

“The credit issue goes away if I just write you a check,” Merritt said.

A news release distributed by Nine Line says the company grossed more than $25 million last year.

CNBC reported CBS was charging roughly $175,000 per second for Super Bowl commercials. At that rate, Nine Line’s 45 seconds would have cost more than $7.8 million.

Next year’s Super Bowl is scheduled to be broadcast by Fox, so Merritt says he plans to try to get Nine Line’s commercial on the air then.

CBS media representatives did not respond to messages or an email requesting comment.

Lisa Wilson is a breaking news reporter for The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette. The 25-year newsroom veteran has worked for papers in Louisiana and Mississippi and is happy to call the Lowcountry home.

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