Fake News: Patriots Coach Bill Belichick Did NOT Fine Kneeling Player $1 Million Dollars

Fact Check

  • by: Maarten Schenk
Fake News: Patriots Coach Bill Belichick Did NOT Fine Kneeling Player $1 Million Dollars

Did coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots just fine rookie lineman Tyrone Blackman a million dollars for kneeling during the National Anthem? No, that's not true: the story was made up by a liberal satire website that gets its traffic by riling up conservatives and Trump supporters into liking and sharing fake news so fans of the site can then mock them for it online. The player in question doesn't even exist, the whole story is not real.

The story originated from an article published by America's Last Line of Defense on September 23, 2018 titled "Patriots Coach Bill Belichick Just Fined Kneeling Player $1 Million Dollars" (archived here) which opened:

Coaches are starting to take a stand against anti-American kneeling players. We saw a blow dealt to Patriots rookie lineman Tyrone Blackman, a black fifth-round draft pick who thought he could make himself famous by kneeling during the National Anthem.

Unfortunately for Blackman, coach Bill Belichick ruined his year. Blackman, who currently makes $973,773 per season, found himself hit with a fine that was outlined in his contract. According to ESPN:

Blackman's contract states that he will "stand on the field with his hand over his heart as the National Anthem plays." Blackman violated this clause on Sunday, which triggered a fine laid out in the contract of nearly $1,000,000 per offense or "1/4 of the contracted salary."

Blackman was signed to a four-year deal earlier this year.

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail, which presumably is the only part of the story seen by many of the people who shared it with their friends on social media:

Patriots Coach Bill Belichick Just Fined Kneeling Player $1 Million Dollars

Coaches are starting to take a stand against anti-American kneeling players. We saw a blow dealt to Patriots rookie lineman Tyrone Blackman, a black fifth-round draft pick who thought he could make himself famous by

If they had actually clicked throught they would probably have noticed the phrase "Information you probably shouldn't trust" in the header of the site. Or the category the article was posted under: "Newsguard Calls It Journalism But We Call It Satire".

Or that the player pictured is actually Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys:

Dez Bryant Getting Tutored By Michael Irvin In London (Photo)

The Dallas Cowboys are trying to bounce back after two straight losses, and their top wide receiver is getting lessons from a franchise legend. Dez Bryant is trying to become the best active wide receiver in the game, and while he's no doubt a top-10 player, he's not yet the best receiver in the game.

You can also check the roster of the New England Patriots, there is no "Tyrone Blackman" on it:

New England Patriots

Get the latest official New England Patriots schedule, roster, depth chart, news, interviews, videos, podcasts and more on Patriots.com.

The site comes with a clear satire disclaimer at the bottom of each article:

sat·ire ~ˈsaˌtī(ə)r
noun
the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, OR ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.
If you disagree with the definition of satire or have decided it is synonymous with "comedy," you should really just move along.

The owner and main writer of the site is self-professed liberal troll Christopher Blair, a man from Maine who has made it his full time job to troll gullible conservatives and Trump supporters into liking and sharing his articles. He runs several other websites, including potatriotpost.us, dailyworldupdate.us and nofakenewsonline.us. Sometimes he is also known under his nickname "Busta Troll". A second man working on the sites is John Prager as revealed in this earlier story we wrote.

Articles from Blair's sites frequently get copied by "real" fake news sites who often omit the satire disclaimer and any other hints the stories are fake. Blair has tried to get these sites shut down in the past but new ones keep cropping up and he keeps knocking them down.

If you see one of his stories on a site that does not contain a satire disclaimer, assume it is fake news. If you do see the satire disclaimer it is of course also fake news.

NewsGuard, a company that uses trained journalist to rank the reliability of websites, describes trumpbetrayed.us as:

A website claiming to be satirical that publishes fabricated stories, run by Christopher Blair, a known purveyor of disinformation, that published fake stories about Senator John McCain after he passed away.

According to NewsGuard the site does not maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability. Read their full assessment here.

We wrote about trumpbetrayed.us before, here are our most recent articles that mention the site:

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  Maarten Schenk

Lead Stories co-founder Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

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