The NFL stirred controversy this week when a graphic that depicted the New England Patriots and Minnesota Vikings in the Super Bowl appeared on its Facebook page.
The post, which appeard Tuesday, was supposed to be for a promotional giveaway in which fans were given the opportunity to win Super Bowl seats if they donated to United Way. It read:
Your team is headed to Super Bowl LII...and you could too! When you donate to United Way, you could score 2 club-level seats to watch the PATRIOTS vs. the VIKINGS battle it out for the coveted Super Bowl title! But...that's not all! You could also WIN pre-game sideline access + other cool perks! Don't pass up this touchdown experience - donate TODAY for your chance to WIN big.
The comments section was quickly filled with upset Eagles and Jaguars fans, which caught the attention of the NFL. The post was deleted Friday.
In an email to Geoff Mosher of Fan Rag Sports, an NFL spokesman said the Facebook promo advertising a Vikings-Patriots Super Bowl with Case Keenum and Tom Brady was a "regrettable mistake." The league also emphasized that other graphics with the four remaining quarterbacks were also made, but were set to be released on Monday.
Unsurprisingly, Philadelphia fans felt particularly disrespected by the situation and began to shout conspiracy. NBC Sports Philly's Amy Fadool helped calm some of the uproar.
Just so you know...that site is not sponsored with the NFL nor United Way. It just is a prize website that uses prizes to get donations to the United Way. So that pic is fake. But the site is real. https://t.co/auDpLrulhH
— Amy Fadool Kane (@amyfadoolNBCS) January 19, 2018
It’s highly unlikely that this was an indication that the ideal Super Bowl matchup has already been determined by the NFL. But one thing is for certain: A conference championship Sunday that results in a Vikings-Patriots matchup will certainly raise a few eyebrows in Philadelphia and Jacksonville.