The Border Patrol wanted to post the ad in the 200,000 game programs handed to fans attending the game between the Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts at Miami's Dolphins Stadium. But the federal agency, which is part of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Department fo Homeland Security, hit a roadblock when the NFL said inclusion in the ad of words like "terrorists," "illegal aliens" and "drug smugglers" wasn't appropriate for that venue.
"We asked for modifications in it. We didn't receive them," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told FOXNews.com. "We were uncomfortable with the copy, which talked about terrorists and their weapons and undocumented aliens and drug smuggling, and for the Super Bowl and our Super Bowl guests, we thought that was a little much."
Aillo read aloud part of the ad:
"As Border Patrol agents, it will be your responsibility to prevent the entry of terrorists and their weapons into the United States. You'll help detect and prevent the unlawful entry of undocumented aliens into the United States … [and ] play a primary role in stopping drug smuggling across our borders," specifically along the southwest border.
Aiello said the NFL requested some changes made to the ad, but never heard back from the Border Patrol. He added that the organization has accepted and run recruiting ads from other government agencies, such as the Defense Department and its military recruiting ads, and that the NFL honors the military during each game.
"It's just the specific content of this specific print ad that we thought should be modified for our game program," he said.
Plus, the ad is part of a much larger debate the NFL wanted to stay out of, Aiello added.
"To us, it also raises the immigration issue, which is a very controversial political issue and we wanted to steer clear from that and any perception that we were taking some position on that," he said.
A Customs and Border Patrol spokesman said other major leagues — such as the NBA in its all-star program guide and the NCAA Final Four basketball program guide — have run the ad.
"We thought this was a great opportunity and we're disappointed that we weren't able to get the ad placed," Customs and Border Protection spokesman Michael Friel told FOXNews.com.
"The primary mission of our agency the U.S. Customs and Border Protection is to deny terrorists and terrorism weapons from entering the country illegally. That's what we do, that's why we exist. We feel like for those who are looking for a way to serve their country and to make a difference, this is a great opportunity for them and we want to get that message out."
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told Congress last week that the NFL turned down the ad, much to his "chagrin."
The league's concern for its "perception" reaches south of the border to Mexico, where it is represented by NFL Mexico, "... established in 1997 to oversee the local media, sponsorship, consumer products, fan/player development, public relations and special events needs of the NFL in Mexico," according the league's Web site.
The NFL reportedly continues to consider a foreign franchise in the next 10 years, with Mexico City a strong contender.
"We love Mexico," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. "We have a great fan base there. It's growing every day. We are very interested in going back. And we hope to be dealing with the various officials in Mexico to try to get that done for the 2008 season."
The Border Patrol, meanwhile, is trying to boost its ranks to 18,000, a goal President Bush outlined last year. The goal of border agents, according to the agency's Web site, "is preventing terrorists and terrorists' weapons, including weapons of mass destruction, from entering the United States."
Agents patrol nearly 6,000 miles of international land border with Canada and Mexico and nearly 2,000 miles of coastal border.