Bob Molinaro, sportswriter extraordinaire, checks a fact:
Lining up players for the national anthem wasn’t standard practice in the NFL until 2009. Believe it or not, coaches were against it, believing it created distractions. Really. That was before the U.S. Department of Defense and National Guard gave the league millions of dollars to wrap itself in the flag. The pregame pageantry – the unfurling of 100 yards of stars-and-stripes – began as a marketing strategy to gin up patriotism. Follow the money.