Shutdown Corner - NFL

The 2011 NFL season got off to a patriotic start Thursday night with a coordinated American flag display by 70,000 Green Bay Packers fans at Lambeau Field.

During Jordin Sparks' performance of the national anthem, fans held up placards to make a wavy flag that could be seen from above by NBC cameras.

Packers crowd gets patriotic with huge American flag display

At first I thought that it was pretty coincidental that everyone at Lambeau color coordinated their sweatshirts enough to make this happen. Then it dawned on me that all that Packers green and gold would probably make a Jamaican flag instead and that they were actually holding red, white and blue placards that had been left in their seats.

The visual was even cooler when seen from the blimp covering the game:

Packers crowd gets patriotic with huge American flag display

Green Bay-New Orleans photo gallery [Photo Gallery: Packers outlast Saints 42-34]

These sorts of displays rarely impress me and I realized Thursday night it's because there are too many fans in the crowd who either aren't in their seats or don't care enough to participate. That's not a problem in a place like Green Bay, where I'd imagine love of America runs second only to love of Aaron Rodgers(notes) and the Packers.

Sparks did a fine job with the anthem, much better than the last time the song was sung at an NFL game (cough, Christina Aguilera, cough). But, for my money, the best part of the festivities was the flyover by four F-16s immediately after the conclusion of the song. Flyovers by military jets always get the goosebumps going but this one was even more special, perfectly timed by the 115th Fighter Wing of the Wisconsin Air National Guard.

We've all seen what they look like on television. This YouTube clip shot outside a house in Green Bay provides a different angle.

Funny, when you watch the game on TV, you never think that those planes have to come from somewhere.

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