Fact Check

Did John Elway Lay Down the Law on Players Kneeling During National Anthem?

A routine review of content labeled satire.

Published Jul 28, 2020

041213-F-2270A-424.Hall of Fame Quarterback John Elway talks to the troops as he gets ready to fire a few footballs to the crowd at Ali al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, during a United Services Organization tour on Dec. 13, 2004.  Elway joined Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard B. Myers, U.S. Air Force, and Blake Clarke, Leann Tweedon and Robin Williams on the USO tour to meet, entertain and thank the deployed troops.  DoD photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott M. Ash, U.S. Air Force.  (Released) (Wikipedia)
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Denver Broncos owner John Elway said any player who kneels during the national anthem would be fired on the spot.

On June 16, 2020, Potatriotsunite.com published an article alleging that John Elway, general manager of the Denver Broncos, had "laid down the law" by telling players that anyone who kneels during the national anthem would be fired on the spot:

John Elway Lays Down The Law: ‘Kneel On My Field And You’re Fired On The Spot’

John Elway, former Super Bowl-winning quarterback and Head of Football Operations for the Denver Broncos, has laid down some ground rules for the upcoming season of the NFL. According to our sources inside the locker room who may or may not have direct knowledge of what’s going on, Elway is already polishing up his index finger to point at the traitors he’ll fire.

This item was not a factual recounting of real-life events. The article originated with a website that describes its output as being humorous or satirical in nature, as follows:

Everything on this website is fiction. It is not a lie and it is not fake news because it is not real. If you believe that it is real, you should have your head examined. Any similarities between this site’s pure fantasy and actual people, places, and events are purely coincidental and all images should be considered altered and satirical. See above if you’re still having an issue with that satire thing.

This bit of satire may have sounded a bit familiar to some readers. In 2018, Potatriotsunite.com's sister website, America's Last Line of Defense, posted a piece of fiction claiming that Elway had fired three players who knelt during the national anthem.

Neither of the aforementioned satirical articles accurately represent Elway's attitude toward protests during the national anthem. In June 2020, the Broncos' owner released a statement on social media saying that he supported the players who were "using their platform and influence in a positive way to create change," and that he was joining them to speak out against "racism, police brutality and any injustice against the black community."

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


Jensen, Chad.   "John Elway Breaks Silence with Statement on Police Brutality & Racism."     Sports Illustrated.   16 June 2020.

PotatriotsUnited.Com.   "John Elway Lays Down The Law: ‘Kneel On My Field And You’re Fired On The Spot.'"     16 June 2020.