Advertisement
  1. Military

Game show app to feature Super Bowl message that NFL rejected

The live, app-based game show Super Squares will feature a 30-second commercial urging people to stand during the national anthem. [React LLC]
Published Feb. 1, 2018

TAMPA — Former Marine David Shimkus calls it a "slap in the face to veterans" that the NFL rejected a bid to place an ad in the Super Bowl program asking fans to stand for the national anthem.

So as a senior executive with Largo-based media company React LLC, the former Marine firefighter offered an alternative way to get the message out: A smartphone app on a new sports-based game called Super Squares, where the object is to watch football, answer questions and win prizes.

"I knew that we had this awesome opportunity with the Super Squares app," said Shimkus, 49, of Belleair Bluffs, whose company is testing the app. "We can put any kind of advertising we want. We are not beholden to anyone."

Officials with Amvets, the veterans group pushing the ad, jumped at the opportunity.

"I think it is fantastic," said Amvets spokesman John Hoellwarth.

Hoellwarth, also a Marine veteran, said the NFL deemed the organization's print ad "too political."

The ad is a response to players who have taken a knee during the national anthem, a practice begun during the 2016 season as a protest against what participants saw as police brutality against black people. Among those who took part were Tampa Bay Buccaneers receivers Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson.

The Amvet ad also reflects support for the American flag from the group's 250,000 members, Hoellwarth said.

It features an image of a military honor guard holding the flag on a staff, along with the message, "Please Stand," and a request for donations.

"The NFL clearly doesn't want our message anywhere near their biggest game," Hoellwarth said. "The Super Squares app still gets it out in spite of that. That's fantastic."

Super Squares is a live game show that kicks in during breaks in the big game Sunday, said Frank Maggio, React LLC founder and chief executive officer. Super Bowl LII in pits the Philadelphia Eagles against the New England Patriots in Minnesota.

A beta test of the app was conducted in the Tampa market during the AFC Championship game Jan. 21. Super Squares also appeared during the NFL Pro Bowl, played Sunday.

Using their smart phones, players answer questions at the end of each quarter and during the two-minute warning about the game that's underway and the advertising on the app.

Maggio, 55 of Seminole, said he expects 1,000 to 2,000 viewers and plans on doling out $8,000 in cash prizes, plus several hundred Dominoes pizzas and a new 2017 Nissan Altima.

Instead of a static ad, the app will show a 30-second Amvets video during halftime. It opens with an American flag waving and features individuals asking that people vote, volunteer, serve and express their rights. It ends with Amvets commander Marion Polk asking viewers to "please stand" and closes with the hashtag #pleasestand.

NFL officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Maggio noted that many people have stopped watching NFL games in protest of players who kneel and said the ad is geared toward them as well as people who still watch.

Steve Emerson, 61, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel from Valrico, is one of the boycotters and said he welcomes the Super Squares effort.

"I think that it's great that a local company plans to air the commercial," Emerson said. "I'm inclined to buy their product/service even if I'm allergic to it."

Maggio said he would also give the NFL Players Union a chance to have a say during the game show, as well.

"If they wanted to provide us with a 30-second ad," he said, "we would take it and ask viewers of the game if they understood the message."

Contact Howard Altman at haltman@tampabay.com or (813) 225-3112. Follow @haltman.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Honor guard soldiers salute as the urn containing the ashes of Maj. Albert L. Mitchell, U.S. Army (Retired) is seen during a ceremony Friday, Oct. 11, 2019 in St. Petersburg. CHRIS URSO  |  Times
    The ashes were found in a St. Petersburg attic. Nine years after his death, a soldier is buried with honors at Bay Pines National Cemetery.
  2. Patriot Guard Riders Floyd Anderson (right of center), from Riverview, and (right) Henry Hyde, from Fort Myers, embrace after the funeral for Edward K. Pearson on October 1 at the Sarasota National Cemetery in Sarasota.  Mr. Pearson was not believed to have left any family behind, so the public was invited to attend. MONICA HERNDON  |  Times
    Edward Pearson Sr. had two sons. Their father walked out on them when they were teens. Years later, they were told he was dead.
  3. (left to right) Trevor Yarborough, 17, Kadie Weston, 17, and Connor Gadson-Yarbrough, 18, supervise their NJROTC classmates while preparing for the Iron Bear Challenge at Robinson High School in Tampa. MONICA HERNDON  |  Times
    Many of America’s future soldiers are too young to have a personal connection to the terror attacks or the war in Afghanistan that followed.
  4. Edward K. Pearson's remains are carried in for his funeral on October 1, 2019 at the Sarasota National Cemetery in Sarasota, Florida.  Mr. Pearson did not leave any family behind, so the public was invited to attend. MONICA HERNDON  |  Times
    An estimated 1,500 people showed up at the ceremony held for Edward K. Pearson.
  5. The KC-135s are the main aircraft for the 6th Air Mobility Wing soon to be redesignated as the 6th Air Refueling Wing. MONICA HERNDON  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The 6th Air Mobility Wing celebrates its 100th anniversary while getting a redesignation
  6. A F/A-18A Hornet, assigned to the U.S. Navy flight demonstration team the “Blue Angels,” makes a pass past the crowd at the 2004 Joint Service Open House. Courtesy of Mate 2nd Class Daniel J. McLain
    MacDill Air Force Base will host Navy aircraft for three weeks beginning Oct. 1
  7. Army veteran Edward K. Pearson died in Naples with no living relatives. A social media campaign that swept the country is expected to bring crowds to his interment at a Sarasota military cemetery. Photo from Patricia Thrasher's Facebook
    The national political community is rallying around the story of Edward K. Pearson.
  8. Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday. Macguire was heading up a charity helping wounded warriors when he was tapped last year to join the intelligence community in Washington. PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS  |  AP
    The retired vice admiral and Navy SEAL helped raise millions for wounded warriors as leader of a Tampa-based foundation.
  9. A homeless Vietnam War veteran in Clearwater answers questions for a Pinellas County homeless survey. A shortage of affordable housing is considered a major cause of homelessness among vets in the Tampa Bay area. [Times files]
    Local agency leaders called on members of Congress to increase national affordable housing options as a solution to veteran homelessness
  10. A Coast Guard rescue swimmer drops from a helicopter during a training exercise off Honeymoon Island State Park in 2012. Jim Damaske
    The bizarre threat and fakes calls for help are being transmitted over marine radio. It sounds like the same man, the Coast Guard said.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement