Before being introduced to the 100 percent Americanism Award recipient, American Legion national convention attendees watched a commercial – “Ragged Old Flag” performed by Johnny Cash. It features individuals respecting the American flag to include the youngest living Medal of Honor recipient, Kyle Carpenter; and Christie Ennis, a helicopter door gunner and mechanic who lost her leg in Afghanistan in a helicopter crash.
The commercial was played as part of FOX Sports Super Bowl LVII broadcast this year where a record 115.2 million people watched.
“As we all know, commercial advertising during the Super Bowl is sold for many millions of dollars for even the briefest spots. But FOX Sports decided that this patriotic message was worth transmitting to the world, sacrificing time that could be used to pitch commercial products,” said American Legion National Commander Vincent J. “Jim” Troiola. “Normally, we present our 100 percent Americanism Award at the Americanism Commission meeting. This year, we felt that our award recipient deserved to be acknowledged here on the big stage.”
The American Legion 100 Percent Americanism Award was presented to FOX Sports on Aug. 30, and CEO and Executive Producer Eric Shanks accepted it on stage at the Charlotte Convention Center.
“This is quite an honor for all of us at FOX Sports,” Shanks said. “So we want to say thank you, but above all we want to say thank you for your service to this country. It’s something that we strive to do with every broadcast that we do which is to say thank you, whether it’s showing the national anthem or creating pieces like (“Ragged Old Flag”). This honor really reflects our commitment to the servicemen and women and the veterans that have served.”
The idea of showing patriotism before a Super Bowl kickoff started in 1997, the very first Super Bowl for FOX Sports. The network was run by David Hill then and from 1997-2016 a piece of the Declaration of Independence was read. After that, FOX Sports was looking to change its patriotic kickoff commercial. That’s when Shanks heard the song “Ragged Old Flag.”
On his drive home in Los Angeles, he was listening to his favorite radio host and good friend, Tim Conway Jr. “He doesn’t usually play music, but something struck him and he played this song (by Johnny Cash) that I had never heard before,” Shanks said. “As soon as he played that song I said, ‘Buddy, you just played a song that a hundred million people are going to get to see before the Super Bowl in Houston in 2017.’
“It is now our tradition before kickoff.”
This month, FOX Sports is celebrating 30 years of broadcasting the NFL.
“Our most proud day, every year, is when we take our NFL pregame show on the road to celebrate Veterans Day,” Shanks said. They have been to Al Udid Air Base in Qatar; the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis; Marine Corps Base in San Diego; U.S. Military Academy West Point; Fort Benning, Ga.; Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan; Joint Base Pearl Harbor; and where it all started in 2000 on the USS Harry Truman.
“This is our longest standing tradition at FOX Sports, and we’re not going to stop anytime soon,” Shanks said. “It’s the thing that makes our country so strong.
“On behalf of FOX Sports, we are extremely honored that you like the piece and we hope that you continue to enjoy our work in honoring our servicemen and women and the veterans who sacrifice to keep us safe and free.”