FACT CHECK: Did NFL Linebacker James Harrison Make This Remark About The Anthem Protests?
An image shared on Facebook claims that former NFL linebacker James Harrison said, “Anyone on my team sits for Anthem [sic], they better be in a wheelchair.”
There is no record of Harrison ever making this statement.
The remark initially surfaced in August 2017, part of a since-deleted article posted on the site LockerDome.com by an account using the name “Happy Gilmore,” as Sports Illustrated reported. It emerged during the controversy surrounding the decision of many NFL players to sit or kneel during the National Anthem in protest of racial injustice.
The quote, however, is fake. “Alleged comments by #Steelers LB @jharrison9292 on social media today regarding any protests are false & should not be used as a reference,” Burt Lauten, director of communications for the Steelers, tweeted at the time.
Alleged comments by #Steelers LB @jharrison9292 on social media today regarding any protests are false & should not be used as a reference.
— Burt Lauten (@SteelersPRBurt) August 14, 2017
Soon after it appeared, Harrison confirmed that he never made the statement, expressing his true feelings about the protests to Sports Illustrated. “That’s up to the individual,” Harrison said of players declining to stand during the National Anthem. “If they feel like that’s something they want to do, that’s their right.”
At the time, Harrison was playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He announced his retirement from professional football in April 2018 after a 15-season NFL career during which he won two Super Bowls.
This was not the first fake statement about the protests to be falsely attributed to Harrison. In September 2016, a fake Harrison tweet declared: “If you on my team and not standin [sic] for Anthem better be from a broken leg or I’m gonna give you one.”
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