A 2020 Super Bowl Ad Featuring Johnny Cash's 'Ragged Old Flag' Stirred Up Controversy



Fox debuted a commercial ahead of its Feb. 2, 2020 airing of Super Bowl LIV featuring Johnny Cash's 1974 recitation of "Ragged Old Flag." The update on a similar Super Bowl ad from 2017 was a celebration of the American flag and the republic for which it stands, featuring appearances by Medal of Honor recipient Kyle Carpenter and the families of some of the 9/11 terrorist attacks' victims.

Be it the participation of his old team the San Francisco 49ers (they lost the Super Bowl to Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs) or his stance on kneeling for the national anthem, something about the pregame show segment riled up both sides of the Colin Kaepernick argument.

Some joyed in what they viewed as a "wonderful slap in the face" of Kaepernick. Others knocked both Fox Sports and the supposedly "apolitical" NFL for what they viewed as a hit piece.


Read More: Eric Church Begins ACM Awards Performance With Johnny Cash's 'Ragged Old Flag'

The original video aired before the kickoff of Super Bowl LI (that flag, and Tom Brady, is still there for this year's big game) and was introduced by Olympic gymnast Simone Biles and singer Harry Belafonte.


Both pointed viewers of America's biggest annual TV event to lyrics Cash wrote in response to Watergate and the Vietnam War.

"Ragged Old Flag" Lyrics

I walked through a county courthouse square
On a park bench an old man was sitting there
I said, your old courthouse is kinda run down
He said, naw, it'll do for our little town
I said, your old flagpole has leaned a little bit
And that's a ragged old flag you got hanging on it

He said, have a seat, and I sat down
Is this the first time you've been to our little town?
I said, I think it is
He said, I don't like to brag
But we're kinda proud of that ragged old flag

You see, we got a little hole in that flag there when
Washington took it across the Delaware
And it got powder-burned the night Francis Scott Key
Sat watching it writing say can you see
And it got a bad rip in New Orleans
With Packingham and Jackson tuggin' at its seams


And it almost fell at the Alamo
Beside the Texas flag, but she waved on though
She got cut with a sword at Chancellorsville
And she got cut again at Shiloh Hill
There was Robert E. Lee, Beauregard, and Bragg
And the south wind blew hard on that ragged old flag

On Flanders field in World War one
She got a big hole from a Bertha gun
She turned blood red in World War Two
She hung limp and low a time or two
She was in Korea and Vietnam
She went where she was sent by Uncle Sam

She waved from our ships upon the Briny foam
And now they've about quit waving her back here at home
In her own good land here she's been abused
She's been burned, dishonored, denied, and refused

And the government for which she stands
Is scandalized throughout the land
And she's getting threadbare and wearing thin
But she's in good shape for the shape she's in
'Cause she's been through the fire before
And I believe she can take a whole lot more


So we raise her up every morning
We take her down every night
We don't let her touch the ground and we fold her up right
On second thought, I do like to brag
'Cause I'm mighty proud of that ragged old flag

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