NFL Teams Didn’t Stand For The National Anthem Until 2009

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San Francisco 49ers Eric Reid (35) and Colin Kaepernick (7) take a knee during the National Anthem prior to their season opener against the Los Angeles Rams during an NFL football game Monday, Sept. 12, 2016, in Santa Clara, CA. The Niners won 28-0. (Daniel Gluskoter/AP Images for Panini) ORG XMIT: DGCA101
(Daniel Gluskoter/AP Images for Panini)

Who’s ready for a fun fact?

A lot has been made of Colin Kaepernick and many other NFL players’ decision to protest the National Anthem prior to games, many people have called for fines, suspensions and even releases of the players.

But did you know that until 2009, no NFL player stood for the national anthem?

Hat tip to Slate.com’s Josh Levin for picking this one up:

No NFL player stood for the national anthem until 2009—before then, the players stayed in the locker room as the anthem played. NFL teams got patriotic in recent years because it was good for business. A 2015 congressional report revealed that the Department of Defense had paid $5.4 million to NFL teams between 2011 and 2014 to stage on-field patriotic ceremonies; the National Guard shelled out $6.7 million for similar displays between 2013 and 2015.

“Paid patriotism” is what this is being called.

Last May, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell returned more than $700,000 of taxpayer’s money that was to teams for “sponsored military tributes” according to Darren Rovell of ESPN.com nfl-salute-service-01

Roger Goodell wrote a letter Senators Jeff Flake and John McCain, which was disclosed to the public last May, Goodell said that following an audited review of 100 marketing agreements from 2012 to 2015, all 32 NFL teams were received $723,734 for “acts of sponsored patriotism”

The NFL was brought under heavy scrutiny after it was discovered that money was being given to the NFL for “various measures of public recognition” during games, including having players stand for the National Anthem and honoring the military with on-field apparel.

While many NFL players continue to sit during the National Anthem and people of a certain belief continue to ‘bash’ and ridicule them, it’s important to know that at the end of the day, ever since 2009 and millions of dollars, NFL players didn’t stand for the National Anthem on a regular basis.

On ESPN’s First Take, this was brought up by co-host Stephen A Smith:

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