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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke May 28, 2024

Old fake news story about NFL refs ejecting protesting players recirculates

If Your Time is short

  • This story originated on a self-described satire site.

The National Football League season is on hiatus until August, but that hasn’t stopped the spread of misinformation about referees supposedly booting players from the field for kneeling during the national anthem. 

"Anthem kneeling in the NFL: Referees flex their authority, eject five players," a May 20 Facebook post said. "The league sends a clear message!"

This post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

The post has a link to a blog post titled: "The NFL’s stand on anthem kneeling sparks controversy." 

But the post appears to be plagiarized from the self-described satire site The Dunning-Kruger Times, which is part of what America’s Last Line of Defense calls its "network of trollery." 

The story, which was shared on America’s Last Line of Defense’s Facebook page in November 2023, describes the supposed ejection of "right guard Joe Barron," a "notorious kneeler."

But this is a character who appears regularly in fake news stories. In other posts on The Dunning-Kruger Times site, he’s an attorney, Dominion Voting Systems CEO, Levi’s CEO, Walt Disney Co. chairman, New York Jets head coach, and the host of an ESPN show called "Sports Talk with Joe Barron," among other purported titles. 

We rate claims that NFL refs ejected players for kneeling during the anthem False.


Our Sources

Facebook post, May 20, 2024

Blog post, May 20, 2024

Facebook post, Nov. 14, 2023

Blog post, visited May 28, 2024


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Old fake news story about NFL refs ejecting protesting players recirculates

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