Staff Writer

Carl Lewis is a general assignment reporter for The Ada News. He's an aspiring photographer, an unabashed fan of Apple products and an avid coffee swiller. Contact Carl at (580) 310-7520, or by email at clewis@theadanews.com.

By now, most should be familiar with the viral image of an NFL player dancing around the locker room with a burning American flag. Some of you may even have shared the image. If so, shame on you. It’s fake.

During a Sept. 22 rally for Alabama GOP Senate candidate Luther Strange, President Trump accused NFL players who kneel in protest during the U.S. National Anthem of disrespecting “our heritage” and “everything we stand for.”

The president’s comments further fueled an ongoing national debate over player protests, and may have inspired an as-yet-unknown denizen of the World Wide Web to add their own personal flair to the debate — a digitally altered image of Seattle Seahawks player Michael Bennett dancing around the locker room with a burning American flag while the team cheers him on.

There’s just one problem with the image. It’s fake. But that didn’t stop a social media editor with the Veterans for Donald Trump Coalition from sharing the image on the group’s Facebook page, along with his feelings about the protests in general. From there, the image spread like wildfire.

Vets for Trump Chair Joshua Macias said Thursday by phone the image first appeared on the group’s Facebook page “on or about Sept. 28,” and was taken down as soon as the group realized the image had been altered.

“We have a few different content developers for our Facebook page — they’re all vets who volunteer their time,” Macias said. “Apparently someone saw this picture, took it and put it on our website and talked about how it just made us all sick.”

Macias said his organization is vehemently opposed to the NFL player’s chosen form of protest.

“We didn’t make that picture,” Macias said. “We don’t create content that’s been Photoshopped. I asked where it came from but the original editor couldn’t remember where he got it from.”

While Macias said his organization has removed the image from its website and Facebook page, the sentiment behind the image remains.

“Fake or not, this is how we feel,” he said.

The original image, taken by team photographer Rod Mar, depicts Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett performing a popular post-victory dance in the team’s locker room, surrounded by cheering teammates. Bennett had nothing in his hands at the time.

A phone call to Seattle Seahawks media representatives was not returned by press time.


Contact Carl Lewis at (580) 310-7520, or by email at clewis@theadanews.com

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