We’ve first started looking into this when we saw claims that the NFL only really started pushing players standing for the anthem because the DOD was paying them to. That turns out not to be true. Or at least we see no evidence for it. The dates don’t line up. But between 2011 and 2015, the Pentagon did pay the NFL millions of dollars for flag displays, military family reuinitings and various military and patriotic displays. The changes in the anthem ceremony came in 2009, two years before the contract started. So it seems clear that it could not be tied – at least based on the evidence we have – to the DOD contract. But the other stuff is real. When I first heard about this I was a little surprised because I wouldn’t think it would be necessary for the DOD to pay. I would think NFL crowds would eat these displays up and be a kind of brand association – to use a painful marketing phrase – the NFL would want for its own reasons. But it was big business. Here’s our report from Allegra Kirkland.