Count Jesse Williams as one of the proponents of protesting the national anthem at sporting events. The political activist and actor spilled some truths about the long-time tradition that could blow the minds of self-proclaimed patriots. As it turns out, those boycotting the NFL over athletes kneeling during the anthem may want to read up on where that tradition came from to begin with.
“It’s important to realize that this anthem thing is a scam,” Williams says on “MSNBC Live” Sunday, Sept. 24. “This is not actually part of football. This was invented in 2009 [by] the government paying the NFL to market military recruitment to get more people to go off and fight wars to die. This has nothing to do with [the] NFL, or American pastime, or tradition. This is to get boys and girls to go fly overseas and go kill people. They’re marketing. They’re pumping millions and millions of dollars into the NFL to get us to put on a pageant in front of the NFL football games to get you to go off and fight.”
Jesse Williams Has Never Been Afraid to Speak Up
Williams is referring to a 2015 Senate report that detailed the Department of Defense spent $53 million “on marketing and advertising contracts with sports teams between 2012 and 2015.” A huge chunk of that money — $10 million — went toward the NFL. Contracts for “paid patriotism,” as the report referred to the findings, called for national anthem performances, field-sized American flags, on-field color guards and tributes to wounded war heroes. The DOD admitted that the contracts were meant for recruitment, but didn’t indicate how the activities impacted recruitment.
“Given the immense sacrifices made by our service members, it seems more appropriate that any organization with a genuine interest in honoring them, and deriving public credit as a result, should do so at its own expense and not at that of the American taxpayer,” the report said. “Americans deserve the ability to assume that tributes for our men and women in military uniform are genuine displays of national pride, which many are, rather than taxpayer-funded DOD marketing gimmicks.”