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About that Jerry Jones “my stage” National Anthem story...

Reports that Jerry Jones demanded Cowboys players stand for the anthem appear to be fabricated.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Over the past several weeks, a story has circulated the internet that, in a fiery pre-game locker room speech on September 11th, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones demanded his players stand for the National Anthem. In the wake of Colin Kaepernick’s decision to protest the anthem, the story was highly polarizing, with some celebrating Jones’ patriotic stand, and others criticizing it as a direct contradiction of the freedoms the United States stands for.

The problem? This event apparently never took place. Fact checking website looked into the controversial speech, and found that it originated as a fabrication in a Facebook post. An except from the fabricated story quotes Jones as saying “I want you to remember, you are the actors, but this is MY stage and you will play the role I tell you to.” This misinformation circulated social media and was picked up by a handful of “news” organizations that exploit outrage to generate page views.

Jerry Jones, for his part, has been extremely vocal in support of the National Anthem, publicly praising his players for not staging a demonstration. To this point, no Cowboys players have joined the various forms of protest circulating the league. There is, however, a very big difference between an NFL owner vocally disagreeing with a form of protest, and one demanding that players on his payroll behave in accordance with his political views.

The counterfeit story may have gained the attention of NFL players. This week Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin told HBO’s Any Given Wednesday that at least one owner had demanded that players stand for the anthem. There are enough similarities between the story Baldwin relayed and the fabricated Jerry Jones story that it’s highly possible Baldwin was working off of this misinformation. It is also very possible that an NFL owner made just such a demand, but to this point no such statements have been made publicly.

Journalists and consumers bear a shared responsibility to demand factual information. Stories like this demonstrate the manner in which misinformation can circulate the internet like wildfire. In short, don’t believe everything you read on the internet.