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Army Football Drops Flag Motto Linked to White Supremacists
AP Photo/Mike Groll

Watching the Army Black Knights take the field on Saturdays in the fall is truly unique. Not only are they hype to play college football, but it’s also special to realize these are the service men who are willing to risk their lives to protect our country. That combination is remarkable and unmatched.

Over the last few seasons, Army has ran onto the field with two banners. One is the American flag. The other is a black skull-and-crossbones flag with a ‘GFBD’ slogan on the upper lip. The acronym stands for “God Forgives, Brothers Don’t,” and it has been used by the Army football program for over 20 years.

However, when it was brought to their attention earlier this fall, West Point officials investigated the true meaning of the slogan. As it turns out, GFBD has been linked to motorcycle gangs and Aryan Brotherhood sects, according to ESPN, and the fact it has white supremacist origin is why it is no longer seen on the team’s flags or football merchandise.

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The result came after a two-month investigation by the U.S. Military Academy. The final report stated the motto was used without knowing the origin and had nothing to do “with the views or beliefs of white supremacist groups or any other disreputable organizations with which they might also be associated.”

Still, the use of the phrase is no longer allowed or seen on the upper lip of the skull on the football team flag. Army athletic director Mike Buddie said football coach Jeff Monken was “mortified” at the discovery, according to ESPN. Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, the superintendent of the United States Military Academy, wasn’t happy, either.

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“It’s embarrassing, quite frankly…. We take stuff like this very, very seriously. Once I found out about this goofiness, I asked one of our most senior colonels to investigate.”

Despite the skull-and-crossbones picture being used on t-shirts in the early 1990s, Army athletic department officials said the GFBD phrase wasn’t used until 1996, according to ESPN. The phrase was adopted by the football players after seeing the action film “Stone Cold” that starred former NFL linebacker Brian Bosworth.

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Nobody really paid attention to the phrase’s origin, though, and now something that lasted over two decades is no more.

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With over 10 years of sports writing experience, Brett has covered some of the top local, regional, and national sporting events in the Heartland for both print and digital platforms. He is a graduate of Kansas State University and resides in Austin, Texas.
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