Fact Check

Did Patriots Coach Bill Belichick Suspend Team Captain for Anthem Kneeling?

Some Facebook users are saying the alleged suspension was a good move.

Published Oct. 11, 2023

 (Sam Hodde/Getty Images)
Image courtesy of Sam Hodde/Getty Images
In October 2023, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick suspended a team captain for kneeling during the U.S. national anthem.

On Oct. 10, 2023, SpaceXMania published an article claiming that New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick suspended a team captain for kneeling during the U.S. national anthem:

Breaking: Coach Belichick Suspends Team Captain for Kneeling During Anthem, “You’re Not An Activist”

The realm of professional sports has always been more than just games; it’s a mirror to society’s values, trends, and sometimes, its divisive issues. The NFL has been no stranger to such debates, especially with the kneeling during the National Anthem protest.

But when Coach Bill Belichick, renowned for his strategic genius and stoic demeanor, made the drastic decision to dismiss his team’s captain for taking a knee, it once again ignited a fiery debate. His purported words, “You’re not an activist,” seem to underscore the question of where the line is drawn between personal convictions and team cohesion.

The article — which also appeared on a Facebook page associated with SpaceXMania.com, SpaceX Lovers — did not identify the allegedly suspended player by name. The Patriots have six team captains, including quarterback Mac Jones, for the 2023 season.

Comments under that Facebook post indicated that people believed the story about the unnamed captain to be real. Many users commented that the alleged suspension was a good move by Belichick.

However, Belichick had not really suspended a team captain. This item from SpaceXMania was not a factual recounting of real-life events. The article featured a "Satire" label above its headline. SpaceXMania describes its output as being humorous or satirical in nature, as follows:

Please note that the article under the category "SATIRE" are satirical in nature and are not meant to be taken seriously. These articles are meant to be humorous and are often entirely made up. We make no claim that the information presented in these articles is true or accurate.

We've fact-checked other satirical claims about Belichick during the 2023 NFL season, including the notion he fired (not suspended) a player for kneeling during the U.S. national anthem.

For background, here is why we sometimes write about satire/humor.


Disclaimer - SpaceXMania. 3 Jan. 2021, https://spacexmania.com/disclaimer/.

Liles, Jordan. “Patriots Coach Bill Belichick Fired an Anthem Kneeler: ‘Not On My Field’?” Snopes, 22 Sept. 2023, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/belichick-fired-anthem-kneeler/.

Mikkelson, David. “Why We Include Humor and Satire in Snopes.Com.” Snopes, 15 Aug. 2019, https://www.snopes.com/notes/why-we-include-humor-and-satire-in-snopes-com/.

Izz Scott LaMagdeleine is a fact-checker for Snopes.