On Oct. 19, 2023, SpaceXMania published an article claiming that Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton had fired two players for refusing to stand for the U.S. national anthem. SpaceXMania published the article during the sixth week of the NFL season, when the Broncos had a 1-5 record.
The SpaceXMania article said:
Breaking: Broncos’ Head Coach Sean Payton Fires 2 Top Players On The Spot For Refusing To Stand For The Anthem
In a surprising move that has sent shockwaves throughout the NFL community, Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton has decided to part ways with two of the team’s top players due to their refusal to stand for the national anthem. This decision underscores the ongoing tension and debate surrounding the anthem protests that have gripped the NFL for several seasons.
In October 2023, the story appeared on a Facebook page associated with SpaceXMania.com named SpaceX Lovers. We found comments under the post that indicated people believed the story was real, congratulating Payton for firing the players. "Great job coach," several people commented.
This item was not a factual recounting of real-life events. As originally published, the SpaceXMania 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 previously fact-checked other satirical articles SpaceXMania has written about the NFL during the 2023 season, including one article that claimed referees ejected four NFL players from a game for kneeling during the national anthem.
For background, here is why we sometimes write about satire/humor.