Not Real News

Referee Ronald Torbert looks on during an NFL football game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens on Jan. 8 in Cincinnati. 

CLAIM: The NFL is investigating AFC championship referee Ronald Torbert because his son made a large wager on the Kansas City Chiefs before they defeated the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

THE FACTS: This claim originated on a parody Twitter account, and elements of the post make it clear that it is fiction. Some Bengals fans weren’t happy with calls made in the AFC championship game, which sent the Chiefs to the Super Bowl. But it’s not true that the NFL is investigating the referee who made the calls, despite a misleading post spreading on social media.

A Twitter post making the claim came from a satirical account featuring a character from the comedy film “Anchorman” — details lost on some social media users who shared the post as real. “BREAKING: NFL head ref of the AFC Championship game, Ronald Torbert, commenting on the NFL’s investigation on his family member placing a wager on the game this morning,” the post reads. It then quotes Torbert as saying, “I had no knowledge that my son placed a large wager on the Chiefs until after the game.”

The post claims Torbert made the comments on a radio station called “101.4 ‘The Juice,’” which doesn’t exist. An internet search for the station brings up several juices sold in amounts of 101.4 fluid ounces. The account that posted it identifies itself as a “parody/satire sports anchor at KVWN sports news,” referring to a fictional news station in the movie.

Still, social media users spread the fake quote without that context on Facebook and Twitter, chalking it up to an explanation for why referees made several calls in Kansas City’s favor on Sunday night. In some cases, the post was shared as a screenshot, lacking the satirical disclaimer on the Twitter account. There’s no evidence any such investigation is taking place. Reached for comment, an NFL spokesman pointed to the fact that the account spreading the claim identified itself as satire.