Colin Kaepernick’s decision to remain seated during the national anthem this preseason has led to a round of stories on the history of the anthem in pro sports. Many of these stories were either obscure, or decades old. Here’s one of them.

During the 1973 preseason, the Redskins traveled to Buffalo for a Friday night meeting with the Bills. New running back Duane Thomas, acquired that offseason for a first- and a second-round draft pick,  was evidently heckled throughout that game “because, [fans] claimed, he allegedly did not face the flag during the playing of the national anthem,” The Post’s Leonard Shapiro reported.

“I talked to several people who were sitting in the section behind the Washington bench,” Buffalo Evening News columnist Cy Kritzer told Shapiro. “They said he didn’t stand at attention and was faced the opposite way during the national anthem and they didn’t like it.

“Everybody on the whole club turned around except Thomas,” fans told Kritzer. “That’s what started it, they said.”

Thomas was already on his fourth team at the time. He had a reputation for moodiness and dissatisfaction, had sat out an entire season after starring for the Cowboys in the 1971 Super Bowl and came to Washington partly because Larry Brown was holding out. People never seemed to know quite what to make of Thomas.

Post columnist George Solomon weighed in on the matter a day later, writing that Thomas “chose to confront a cigarette smoking beer-belly in row two behind the Redskin bench,” a man who had been harassing Thomas throughout the game. Eventually, this led to Thomas throwing his helmet, scaling a six-foot wall and throwing a thermos jug at the “beer-belly.” More from George:

Reaction to Thomas’ wall climbing and thermos tossing has been mixed, depending on where one lives and who one listens to. Buffalo people claim that, while there was some heckling of the controversial Redskin runner, no obscenities were used and nothing was thrown. Additionally, they charge, Thomas started it all by disrespectfully turning away from the flag during the playing of the National Anthem.
The Buffalo Evening News reported yesterday that one fan had written a letter of complaint about Thomas to NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle. The Redskins, meanwhile, claim the entire team, Thomas included, was jeered and hit with assorted debris.

One fan letter of complaint? A different era, huh? Still, within 48 hours, Rozelle had responded to the issue, saying “it was not within his jurisdiction to act against Duane Thomas” over the allegations of disrespect, UPI reported.

The wire service wrote that Thomas “had to be restrained from climbing into the stands and fighting with spectators, who allegedly threw refuse and shouted obscenities at him,” and that Thomas “reportedly walked about during the playing of the National Anthem prior to the game and turned his back on the American flag late in the game.”

“I think it was an isolated incident,” Rozelle said of the incident at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention. “In most stadiums in the country the stands are more removed from the field.”

Rozelle called Thomas’s behavior “the sort of thing for the club to police,” and said that while clubs are given national anthem guidelines, “these are policy recommendations and are not mandatory.”

By the next weekend, Thomas was the focus of a Redskins-Colts exhibition at RFK Stadium.

“To some of the defenders of Francis Scott Key, they outcome of tonight’s preseason game…will be comparatively inconsequential,” Shapiro wrote, adding that “they will instead focus their attention on Duane Thomas.” Coach George Allen said he would have “a little talk with Duane” before the game.

“I honestly don’t know how he feels about the National Anthem,” Allen said. “I sing the National Anthem myself. There will be no problem on the National Anthem. Usually, we do stand at attention. It’ no big deal.”

Shapiro noted a certain irony in this: that all the people focused on Thomas during the song would therefore not be focused on the flag.

“While Jimmy the Greek has not quoted a morning line on the anthem action,” Shapiro also noted, “he has made the Redskins seven-point favorites.”

As it turned out, Thomas faced the flag with the rest of his teammates during the anthem. He “was cheered lustily” during pregame introductions, Shapiro reported. His lede may have slyly referred to the controversy; Shapiro wrote that the Redskins — who won in a rout — “showed their disrespect for the so-called new-look Baltimore Colts.”

A week later, the Redskins visited the Patriots, who hired additional security guards to deal with Thomas.

“We don’t want to make a big thing out of it but we have to take the precaution,” a Patriots spokesman said.

The story, as you might have noticed, was never exactly clear, but when reporting on the Pats security guards, UPI wrote that “Thomas turned his back to the flag during the National Anthem,” that “fans hurled verbal abuse and later threw objects at him on the bench,” and that teammates had to restrain Thomas when he tried to climb into the stands after a fan.

By the time of the Patriots game, UPI had labeled Thomas “the controversial Washington running back,” but the wire service reported that he took off his helmet and “stood facing the Schaefer Stadium flag” during the anthem before the Patriots exhibition.

The story then disappeared, and Thomas spent a mostly quiet season in Washington. (Reporters would later compare his media reticence with that of Marshawn Lynch.) The Post’s Dave Brady wrote that Thomas “became popular with Redskins fans because of his independence,” but that his every minor infraction became inflated, and he had several disputes with the Redskins over money.

The August after the anthem incident, Thomas was released by the Redskins after a verbal and physical clash with a coach following days of dispute about his contract. He later was reinstated (and fined), and played the 1974 season with the Redskins. That would be his last season in the NFL.