Taking a knee in protest during the national anthem has led the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL team to bankruptcy, a fake viral post on Facebook said.
"First NFL team declares bankruptcy over kneeling thugs," said a Feb. 2 headline on TopBuzz, an open platform where anyone can post articles and videos.
Facebook users flagged the post as being potentially fabricated, as part of the social network’s efforts to combat fake news.
We found that there is no evidence that the Jaguars plan to file for bankruptcy as a result of players taking a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality or injustice against African-Americans.
The fact-checking website Snopes found that the same story was posted by Patriot Post, a satirical website, on Dec. 3. The article has since been posted by many other websites including Defense USA, Santa Christmas and Policetask.
The Feb. 2 story said that "last week" 31 of 42 men on the Jaguars took a knee during the national anthem. (The Jaguars’ schedule shows their last game was Jan. 21, so technically they didn’t play the week before Feb. 2.)
The players angered "every God-fearing, country-loving American who has either had the honor to serve or know someone who did. They might as well have wiped their proverbial asses with the American flag," the story said.
The story said that the Jaguars were "quietly maneuvering behind the scenes to file a Chapter 11 reorganization of debt bankruptcy in the 3rd District Court of Atlanta next week."
We found no such court in Atlanta, and we found there is a bankruptcy court much closer to home: the Florida Middle Bankruptcy Court in Jacksonville.
We searched news reports and found nothing about the Jaguars moving toward bankruptcy.
Forbes valued the Jaguars at about $2 billion, in 25th place, in it’s 2017 ranking of the value of NFL teams.
The controversy about football players’ silent protests began in 2016, when then-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick initially sat, and later switched to taking a knee, during the pre-game anthem to protest racial discrimination, especially at the hands of police.
Those protests became even more politicized after President Donald Trump tweeted Sept. 23, 2017 that any such players who don’t stand during the national anthem should be fired.
The next day, dozens of NFL players nationwide took a knee in protest, including some Jaguars players during their game in London.
The Jaguars drew particular attention because their owner, Shahid Khan, a Pakistan-born Muslim and only nonwhite NFL owner, publicly showed his support for the protests. Khan joined his team on the field and locked arms to show solidarity during the game.
"We have a lot of work to do and we can do it, but the comments made by the president make it harder," Khan said in a statement. "That's why it was important for us, and personally for me, to show the world that even if we may differ at times, we can and should be united in the effort to become better as people and a nation."
Khan had donated $1 million to Trump’s inauguration but has also criticized Trump’s attempt to ban immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries.
We emailed the Jaguars’ public relations office and did not get a reply.
The protests by NFL players have fueled multiple fake news stories including that a flight crew took a knee and stranded the New Orleans Saints on an airport runway, and that the NFL fined Pittsburgh Steelers $1 million each for skipping national anthem and that Fox Sports cancelled NFL broadcasts.
All of those stories rated Pants on Fire, and in this case the claim that the Jaguars declared bankruptcy over "kneeling thugs" is also made up.
We rate this story posted by various bloggers Pants on Fire!