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NFL to allow liquor commercials this season

Southern Comfort Sold To Sazerac For $543 Million

SAN ANSELMO, CA - JANUARY 14: A bottle of Southern Comfort whiskey is displayed on a shelf at a liquor store on January 14, 2016 in San Anselmo, California. Brown-Forman Corp. announced plans to sell its iconic brand Southern Comfort whiskey to Louisiana-based Sazerac for $543.5 million. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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Beer commercials have been a major part of NFL games for so decades. But the NFL has drawn the line at hard liquor. Until now.

Reversing a longstanding policy, the NFL has informed NBC, ESPN, CBS and FOX that they can run up to four 30-second commercials per game advertising hard liquor, the Wall Street Journal reports. Previously, liquor was among the products the NFL wouldn’t allow to be advertised during its games.

Still, the NFL is going to be restrictive about what the commercials can include: They can’t be football-themed, they can’t be aimed at underage drinkers and they have to include a socially responsible message such as a reminder not to drive drunk. A maximum of four liquor commercials can add per game.

The NFL still bans plenty of types of advertising, often for reasons that are hard to understand. Commercials for condoms and other forms of birth control, for instance, are banned, even as commercials for erectile dysfunction drugs are among the most common ads on NFL games. Energy drink commercials are also banned, as are commercials for any type of gambling and even for Las Vegas tourism -- an odd choice considering the NFL has approved the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas and will be courting tourists to buy tickets. The league also won’t allow marijuana ads during games, even local ads in states where marijuana is legal. And supplement distributors like GNC can’t buy ads.

So the NFL will still turn down a lot of potential advertising revenue over concerns about the shield being tarnished by the “wrong” kinds of advertisers. But liquor companies are no longer considered the “wrong” kinds of advertisers.