DALLAS -- The NFL Players Association said its TV ad, set to run during a college football all-star game this weekend, was rejected by CBS College Sports Network because the message was connected to labor negotiations.
The 30-second commercial, which can be seen on YouTube, includes shots of empty seats and a padlocked gate at a stadium. After voice-overs say, "Let us play," and "Let them play," union president and former NFL Player Kevin Mawae says: "We want to play."
The ad also promotes a union website and urges viewers to sign a petition.
George Atallah, the union's assistant executive director, said Monday the ad was slotted to be shown four times on Saturday's broadcast, a day before the Super Bowl.
"Once they saw it and realized it had a CBA-oriented message, they decided they wouldn't air it," Atallah said in a telephone interview.
He said they union was informed of the network's decision late last week.
"We were told they didn't want any part of it. We went back to them and said, 'Why?' And they said, 'No,' a second time," Atallah said.
CBS spokesman Dana McClintock said CBS College Sports Network would not have accepted an ad from the owners' side, either. McClintock would not comment further.
Atallah said the union didn't try to buy time for the commercial on another network.
He called the decision to reject the ad "disappointing" and said the union wouldn't produce a replacement commercial "because we neither have the time nor resources."
CBS is one of the NFL's broadcast partners.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in an e-mail: "We knew nothing of [the network's] decision, had nothing to do with it, and have no objection to anyone running the ad."
The labor deal between the league and players expires in early March. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and union head DeMaurice Smith met in New York on Monday to discuss the collective bargaining agreement and set up a series of negotiating sessions, including one Saturday in the Dallas area.