Actor and activist Jesse Williams said in an interview Sunday that the NFL’s pregame national anthem ceremony is a marketing “scam” that the U.S. government uses to “get boys and girls to go fly overseas and go kill people.”
In an appearance on MSNBC, the Grey’s Anatomy star said: “it’s also important to realize that this anthem thing is a scam. This is not actually part of football.”
“This was invented in 2009 from the government paying the NFL to market military recruitment – to get more people to go off and fight wars to die,” Williams said, referencing the pregame anthem ceremony that became a league-wide practice in 2009.
In November 2015, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) Flake and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) released a report revealing that the Defense Department had paid for patriotic displays in football and other sports from 2011 to 2014.
“This has nothing to do with NFL or American pastime or tradition,” Williams added. “This is to get boys and girls to go fly overseas and go kill people. They’re marketing. They’re pumping millions and millions of dollars into the NFL to put on a pageant in front of NFL football games to get you to go off and fight.”
Turning his ire toward President Donald Trump and the NFL owners who donated to his inauguration, Williams said, “We know that seven or eight owners gave Donald Trump $1 million each and are friends with a horrible guy who thinks he’s a dictator, who treats America like it’s a game show.”
The actor said NFL owners showed “an incredible level of cowardice and selfishness” by not giving original anthem protester and former San Fransisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick a job.
Williams — a Black Lives Matter supporter — appeared to protest the national anthem in August during a Big3 celebrity basketball tournament in Los Angeles. The actor was seen in a video published by TMZ sitting down during the singing of the national anthem.
The 36-year-old star took to Instagram Monday and slammed what he called the NFL’s “pain patriotism.”
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#PaidPatriotism Less than 10 years ago, the Dept of Defense and National Guard began paying the @NFL to trot its players onto the field for staged military marketing and recruiting ceremonies. #Selling #Buying #Dying #TakeAKnee #ImWithKap #TakeTheKnee #MAGA #BlackLivesMatter #BlueLivesMatter #AllLivesMatter @MSNBC
In March, Williams called President Trump a “pig” who’s trying to “galvanizes as much fear as possible, particularly against black, brown immigrants, and Muslims.”
Follow Jerome Hudson on Twitter @jeromeehudson