Times-Union readers want to know:
I’ve read numerous claims about the NFL players’ national anthem protests. Was a player fined or fired for it? Are some players asking the league to host a month of anti-police activism? Will Fox Sports stop airing NFL games?
No, no and no.
Three of those stories were made up, and one is a huge misrepresentation, FactCheck.org reports and from we have seen online.
Since President Donald Trump called on team owners to fire any player who “disrespects our flag” by making political protests on the field during the national anthem, a lot of stories have circulated on Facebook and have been flagged as potentially fake by FactCheck.org readers. FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to help identify and label viral fake news stories flagged by readers on the social media network.
Claim: The NFL fined Steelers players who weren’t on the sidelines for the anthem.
Seen on: The Last Line of Defense, World News, The Trumppers and others.
More than a dozen websites posted a bogus story claiming the league fined the Pittsburgh Steelers $1 million for every player who wasn’t present for the National Anthem.
Before the game against the Chicago Bears, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin announced that his team would remain off the field for the anthem so that players wouldn’t have to decide whether to stand or take a knee.
“It was a bad decision,” says the story that originated at thelastlineofdefense.org. “NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who donated to Donald Trump’s election campaign, announced shortly after the game began that every player who ‘protested’ the National Anthem and showed ‘immense disrespect to our nation’ would be fined a cool million dollars.”
But there has been no fine, Brian McCarthy, vice president for corporate communications at the NFL, confirmed to FactCheck.org. You can check out political contributions at fec.gov, and our search of Federal Election Commission records shows Goodell didn’t contribute to Trump’s presidential campaign.
The story was completely fake.
A disclaimer on thelastlineofdefense.org says: “America’s Last Line of Defense is a satirical publication that may sometimes appear to be telling the truth. We assure you that’s not the case. We present fiction as fact and our sources don’t actually exist.”
Claim: A group of NFL players are asking the league to make November a month to protest police officers.
Seen on: Freedom Daily and U Conservative.
Some stories claim that players asked the NFL to support anti-police activism, which isn’t true.
According to a Sept. 22 post on uconservative.com: “They’re demanding an anti-police activism month because ‘police have shot over 300 men and women in this country’?!”
Now it is true that a memo written by four current players to Goodell and Troy Vincent, the executive vice president of NFL football operations, did say that “police have shot over 300 men and women in this country” since 2016. But we can see that it never asked the league to engage in anti-police activism.
The memo urges the league to use November “to serve as a month of unity for individual teams to engage and impact the community in their market.”
Specifically, the memo says, that would mean addressing economic growth, education and police and community relations — which would emphasize work that some players have already begun by doing ride-alongs with police, partnering with officers to participate in players’ community-related projects (like camps, events, and outreach), and town hall meetings to discuss issues facing the black community and come up with solutions.
Claim: The Cleveland Browns fired one of its linebackers for kneeling during the anthem.
Seen on: The Last Line of Defense, 365 US news and The USA Conservative.
This story is fake; the Browns didn’t fire any player.
According to the story, the team’s “owner,” Jerry Haslam is quoted saying: “I felt powerless to fire them before … But now that I know my President is behind me, I will gladly fire every player who does this, starting with [Franklin] Lewis.”
“Jerry Haslam” doesn’t own the Browns; the team’s real owners are Jimmy and Dee Haslam. Plus, no one named Franklin Lewis plays for the Browns.
The actual statement released by the real Haslams on Sept. 24 said, in part: “We must not let misguided, uninformed and divisive comments from the President or anyone else deter us from our efforts to unify. Our stance in support of the liberties of peaceful, personal expression afforded to our players and all Americans will remain strong, and we will continue to encourage our players to respectfully use their earned platform to inspire positive change in our nation and throughout society.”
Claim: Fox Sports will no longer broadcast NFL games.
Seen on: Consinfo, Breaking News House, America Info Corner and others.
This is another satirical story from thelastlineofdefense.org — which was republished by several websites without attribution, FactCheck.org reports.
The story says that Fox Sports spokeswoman “Holly McGee” appeared on “Fox & Friends” on Sept. 24 to announce that “we are standing” with Trump and “refusing to air the games until the 12 teams who have attacked the president apologize and players who disrespect our nation are punished.”
But that didn’t happen.
No one from Fox’s sports division appeared on the Sept. 24 edition of “Fox & Friends Weekend” to make such an announcement, according to the network schedule. The Fox network aired several games on Sunday, and it is still scheduled to carry multiple games each week for the remainder of the season.
Consinfo.us, one of the website’s that republished the fraudulent story, even says on its “about us” page: “Keep in mind that everything we publish is in good faith, sometimes the articles are satires and fake and we cannot make any warranties about the completeness, reliability and accuracy of this information.”
Carole Fader: (904) 359-4635