NFL Teams Stayed in Locker Rooms For Anthem Until 2009—Then DoD Began “Paying for Patriotism”

By Jay Syrmopoulos

President Trump’s condemnation of NFL players who choose to kneel, rather than stand for the national anthem, reignited a national debate that began with Colin Kaepernick’s decision not to stand for the anthem last season as a protest against police brutality.

Over the weekend a plethora of players and even entire teams chose to either kneel or stay in the locker room during the playing of the national anthem – while many NFL owners released statements of support for players who choose not to stand.

What many people are missing in this debate is the fact that prior to 2009, NFL teams did not generally stand for the anthem. While having the option to do so individually if they chose to, most of the time they stayed in the locker room during this pregame ritual.

In fact, Tom E. Curran of Comcast Sportsnet New England reported, in August 2016, that NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy confirmed that the now common practice of players standing on the field together for the national anthem only began in 2009.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy confirmed this morning the practice began in 2009, adding, ‘As you know, the NFL has a long tradition of patriotism. Players are encouraged but not required to stand for the anthem.’

Additionally, it has come to light that many of the “patriotic” pregame displays in the NFL are simply propaganda displays that were paid for by the U.S. Department of Defense and the National Guard – meaning that these displays were actually paid for by the American taxpayers.

These displays of patriotic propaganda, called “paid patriotism,” were brought to light in April 2015, when Arizona Senator Jeff Flake released a statement condemning the practice.

Then in November 2015, Flake and fellow Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain issued a report stating that the U.S. Department of Defense had been paying the NFL for patriotic displays in football and other sports between 2011 and 2014:

Contrary to the public statements made by DOD and the NFL, the majority of the contracts — 72 of the 122 contracts we analyzed — clearly show that DOD paid for patriotic tributes at professional football, baseball, basketball, hockey, and soccer games. These paid tributes included on-field color guard, enlistment and reenlistment ceremonies, performances of the national anthem, full-field flag details, ceremonial first pitches͕ and puck drops. The National Guard paid teams for the “opportunity” to sponsor military appreciation nights and to recognize its birthday. It paid the Buffalo Bills to sponsor its Salute to the Service game. DOD even paid teams for the “opportunity” to perform surprise welcome home promotions for troops returning from deployments and to recognize wounded warriors. While well intentioned, we wonder just how many of these displays included a disclaimer that these events were in fact sponsored by the DOD at taxpayer expense. Even with that disclosure, it is hard to understand how a team accepting taxpayer funds to sponsor a military appreciation game, or to recognize wounded warriors or returning troops, can be construed as anything other than paid patriotism.

In total, the Department of Defense paid 14 NFL teams $5.4 million from 2011 to 2014 for patriotic propaganda during NFL games.

U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) called the spending wasteful spending that “leaves a bad taste in your mouth”:

“Those of us go to sporting events and see them honoring the heroes,” Flake said in an interview. “You get a good feeling in your heart. Then to find out they’re doing it because they’re compensated for it, it leaves you underwhelmed. It seems a little unseemly.”

“They realize the public believes they’re doing it as a public service or a sense of patriotism,” Flake continued. “It leaves a bad taste in your mouth.”

Former congressman Ron Paul released a video condemning the practice, asking,

Do you know why the NFL has become so gung-ho with military propaganda? It’s because the U.S. government pays them to do it! So, our money is taken from us, and given to the NFL, in order to propagandize us to support the Empire’s wars. That has to stop.

The report by Senators Flake and McCain did not cover the years prior to 2011, thus having no way to verify whether this “paid patriotism” program began in 2009 – the year NFL teams began taking to the field as a team for the national anthem. However, logic would seem to indicate that it was not an organic manifestation given the widespread proclivity of teams and players to stay in the locker room during the anthem—for decades—prior to 2009.

The fact that all the teams in the NFL decided during the 2009 season to start coming to the field early for the national anthem seems to indicate that these actions, which were the exact behaviors pushed for in the “paid patriotism” propaganda program, were not organic, but begun as part of the Department of Defense propaganda program.

And, while the public argues over whether or not players should stand or kneel, there is no debate that this is government-sponsored propaganda that is meant to indoctrinate people into supporting an imperial war machine that fights not for America and freedom, but for geopolitical power, access to energy resources, and hegemonic control of the global economic system as predicated by the petrodollar.

Please share this story to help awaken people to the fact that these “patriotic” displays are actually “paid patriotism” propaganda brought to you by the U.S. Department of Defense!

Jay Syrmopoulos is a geopolitical analyst, freethinker, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at the University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs and holds a BA in International Relations. Jay’s writing has been featured on both mainstream and independent media – and has been viewed tens of millions of times. You can follow him on Twitter @SirMetropolis and on Facebook at SirMetropolis. This article first appeared at The Free Thought Project.

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9 Comments on "NFL Teams Stayed in Locker Rooms For Anthem Until 2009—Then DoD Began “Paying for Patriotism”"

  1. Good article Jay. Now, if only we could get this info to the tens of thousands whom attend football games on the weekend, we could make some progress. This group of fans need to be informed. With the recent trump comments that football players are not being patriotic I believe it may begin to awaken some( I hope). I am optimistic but even Moses had a hard time convincing the folks at the foot of the mountain.

  2. I’m done watching a bunch of millionaires play a childs game. They can kneel for a pay check and thank their lucky stars. Trump is exactly right they should all be fired. Football is gonna spiral down from here and good riddance.

  3. From the NFL ‘Business Conduct’
    The rules are found on pages A62-63 of the NFL game operations manual:

    “The National Anthem must be played prior to every NFL game, and all players must be on the sideline for the National Anthem.

    During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking. The home team should ensure that the American flag is in good condition. It should be pointed out to players and coaches that we continue to be judged by the public in this area of respect for the flag and our country. Failure to be on the field by the start of the National Anthem may result in discipline, such as fines, suspensions, and/or the forfeiture of draft choice(s) for violations of the above, including first offenses.”

    So there you have it!

  4. Because this distraction is the number 1 most important issue of the day.

    This truly goes to show how pathetic most of the American populace is.

  5. This is straight up fake news. If you search getty images for “NFL National Anthem” and look at the years you can see plenty before 2009. As early as 71.

  6. However the DoD is providing #support Look at SaluteTheTroops

  7. For all y’all trumpanzees

  8. This makes perfect sense…… the NFL “Mack Daddy” players need to be paid to support the military, honor the country, or have appreciation for the fans that pay their hollywood salaries.
    Let it all collapse back to reality, imo. Pro football players would be much more appreciative at 1 million per year compensation. I know that isn’t much to live on but hopefully they could get by on such austerity. Sheesh!

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