Post Misrepresents NFL Response to Oct. 7 Attack on Israel

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Quick Take

NFL teams paid tribute to the victims in Israel of the Oct. 7 Hamas attack by holding moments of silence before games during the following week. But a recent social media post falsely claimed the NFL encouraged players “to kneel for Israel before every game.” An NFL spokesperson called the claim “patently false.”


Full Story

After the Palestinian militant group Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, the NFL announced that its teams would hold a moment of silence before their games during the following week to honor the victims.

Approximately 1,200 people were killed in Israel on Oct. 7, Israeli officials said. More than 22,000 Palestinians have died in Gaza in the ensuing war between Israel and Hamas, Gaza’s health ministry reported on Jan. 8. Reuters reported on Jan. 9 that 187 Israeli soldiers have died in the fighting in Gaza.

“The NFL mourns the loss of innocent lives in Israel and strongly condemns all forms of terrorism,” the NFL said in an Oct. 9 statement, CBS Sports reported. “The depravity of these acts is beyond comprehension, and we grieve with the families of those killed, injured and still missing. We pray for peace and will always stand against the evils of hate.”

In addition, 13 football teams issued statements of support for Israel in October, NBC Sports reported.

A Jan. 6 video post on Instagram, however, misrepresents the NFL’s response to the attacks in Israel. The text on the post claims, “the NFL is encouraging players to kneel for Israel before every game.” The post has received nearly 3,000 likes.

A male voice on the post contrasts the purported action by the NFL with its response to former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who protested incidents of police brutality and racial injustice in 2016 by kneeling during the national anthem and inspired other players to do the same. Kaepernick then received no offers from NFL teams to play the following season or since then.

The video includes images of NFL players, including Kaepernick, kneeling on the sidelines, which we traced back to the racial injustice protests in 2016 and 2017.

The video includes images of NFL players, including Kaepernick, kneeling on the sidelines. While the narrator may give the impression that some of the images represent  players kneeling in support of Israel, we traced them back to the racial injustice protests in 2016 and 2017. None of the images in the post represent players kneeling in support of Israel after Oct. 7.

Contrary to the post’s claim, the NFL has not encouraged players “to kneel for Israel” before any games. NFL spokesperson Tim Schlittner told us in a Jan. 8 email, “The post is patently false.”

It’s worth noting that in 2018, the NFL and the team owners announced a policy that requires players and other team personnel to stand during the national anthem, but allows players to remain in the locker room during the anthem if they prefer. Those who don’t follow the policy face possible fines by the league and their team.


Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here. Facebook has no control over our editorial content.

Sources

AP Newsroom. NFL Diverse Patriotism Anthem. 1 Oct 2017.

AP Newsroom. Rams 49ers Football. 12 Sep 2016.

Britannica. “Colin Kaepernick.” Accessed 8 Jan 2024.

Florio, Mike. “NFL and 13 teams have condemned the Hamas attack in Israel.” NBC Sports. 12 Oct 2023.

Gonzalez, Isabel. “NFL teams to hold moment of silence before each Week 6 game following Hamas attack on Israel.” CBS Sports. 12 Oct 2023.

Knoblauch, Austin. “NFL owners approve national anthem policy for 2018.” NFL.com. 23 May 2018.

Kottasova, Ivana, et al. “One in 100 people in Gaza has been killed since October 7.” CNN. 8 Jan 2024.

New York Times. “Israel-Hamas War: Israel Lowers Oct. 7 Death Toll Estimate to 1,200.” Updated 30 Nov 2023.

Schlittner, Tim. Communications director, NFL. Email to FactCheck.org. 8 Jan 2024.

Spain, Kevin. “Americans opposed to pro sports leagues requiring players stand for national anthem.” USA Today. 25 Oct 2017.

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