Cards, NFL respond to controversial bill

February, 25, 2014
Feb 25
4:30
PM ET
As Arizona Senate Bill 1062 sits on Gov. Jan Brewer's desk, waiting to either be signed or vetoed by Friday, opposition toward the legislation has spread to the football field.
The Arizona Cardinals, the NFL and the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee all issued statements this week voicing their concern and disagreement with the bill, which would give Arizonans the legal ability to restrict services to gay people and others based on their religious beliefs.

And with the Super Bowl coming to Arizona in less than a year, the negative publicity cast on the state has put tourism dollars at stake.

"What so many love about football is its ability to bring people together," the Cardinals said in their statement. "We do not support anything that has the potential to divide, exclude and discriminate. As a prominent and highly-visible member of this community, we strive to bring positive attention to the state. We are concerned with anything that creates a negative perception of Arizona and those of us who are fortunate to call it home."

Super Bowl XLIX is scheduled for Feb. 1, 2015 in Glendale, Ariz. The NFL said it is following the proceedings at the statehouse in Phoenix and will monitor the situation closely should the bill get passed.

"Our policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard," the NFL's statement said.

The league declined to comment further.

The bill was sent to Brewer's desk Monday, giving her five days to veto it before the bill automatically become law.

The "exercise of religion" bill was first read in the state Senate Jan. 14 and streamlined to Brewer's desk in less than seven weeks. State senators Steve Yarbrough, Nancy Barto and Bob Worsley were the bill's sponsors. Earlier this week Worsley went on the record asking Brewer to veto the bill.

The Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee stands to lose the most if the legislation is passed. Businesses around the state, especially those that thrive on tourism, aren't happy with the unfavorable national attention Arizona has received. They believe, if the bill is passed, that people who may be discriminated against will avoid the state. And with the Super Bowl as the state's next major event, there is a lot of money at stake.

In its statement, the host committee supported the veto of SB 1062.

"We share the NFL's core values which embrace tolerance, diversity, inclusiveness and prohibit discrimination," the host committee's statement said. "In addition, a key part of the mission for the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee is to promote the economic vitality of Arizona. On that matter we have heard loud and clear from our various stakeholders that adoption of this legislation would not only run contrary to that goal but deal a significant blow to the state's economic growth potential. We do not support this legislation. Instead, we look forward to continuing to promote the NFL's values while focusing on the economic momentum apparent in Arizona and capturing the positive worldwide attention associated with hosting Super Bowl XLIX."

Josh Weinfuss

ESPN Arizona Cardinals reporter

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