NFL passes on T-Mobile Super Bowl ad featuring Brady and Gronkowski and a bad connection

The Goat got baaaaaaannnnned.

T-Mobile’s Super Bowl ad featuring Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (Greatest Of All Time?) won’t air during the big game on Sunday so the Bellevue, Wash.-based wireless carrier released it Friday morning.

As far as T-Mobile sees it, the ad starring Brady and tight end teammate Rob Gronkowski may have ruffled some feathers with the NFL and its big sponsor — and T-Mobile rival — Verizon.

The 60-second spot is set a year ago as Brady was contemplating his future following the end of his long run with the New England Patriots. In a video chat with Gronkowski, the two talk retirement, with Gronk hyping the joys of soft Florida sands and wind in the hair. But a spotty cell connection bungles what Gronk is telling Brady, and makes it sound like the QB should come to Tampa to try to win another championship.

That’s exactly what the two players will be trying to do on Sunday, so the ad offers up a clever spin on how Brady could be headed toward his seventh Super Bowl title.

But Friday morning T-Mobile released the ad on the Today Show instead of saving it for 100 million TV viewers on Sunday. T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert tweeted that the commercial was “BANNED.” The company put out a news release saying that “even after edits, it still got banned because of the ‘protected rights deal’ with the NFL’s ‘official telco sponsor.’”

T-Mobile encouraged customers and fans to decide for themselves why the ad was passed on, and hyped the controversy with the social hashtag #TheGoatin5G.

The NFL takes very seriously the money paid by official league sponsors to be just that, and content from non-sponsors, like T-Mobile, is subject to review. T-Mobile certainly knows how the ad game is played. The company has advertised during the Super Bowl for the past eight years, hiring stars such as Justin Bieber, Drake, Snoop Dogg, Martha Stewart and more to pitch its services.

And T-Mobile has two other fully approved 60-second ads actually airing on Sunday. At a reported $5.5 million per 30-second unit, T-Mobile is spending $20 million to advertise on Sunday.

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The company has never shied about taking on and calling out competitors in advertising and social posts for what it considers inferior service.

Verizon and the NFL signed a 5-year, approximately $2.5 billion league sponsorship deal in 2017 that makes Verizon the league’s official wireless service partner. According to Axios’ Ina Fried, the company is using the Super Bowl to hype its own 5G offerings. Fried said Verizon invested $80 million to upgrade Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium and its surroundings.

And while the game will be very different due to the pandemic, with only 25,000 fans in the stadium, those at the game will be able to access Verizon’s high-speed network and watch any of seven camera angles on their mobile devices, Fried reported.

T-Mobile and AT&T have also invested in wireless upgrades around Tampa.

Check back with GeekWire for our full roundup of tech-related companies and products being advertised in the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl LV between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers airs Sunday on CBS at 3:30 p.m. PT.