NFL teams were paid $5.4 million by Dept. of Defense to salute U.S. troops during games
Those salutes to American servicemen and women we all watch on the Jumbotron during halftime of NFL games? Turns out they are paid promotions costing taxpayers millions of dollars.
It's a familiar scene to most Americans. The poignant moment when a soldier is honored for his or her service before a cheering crowd during halftime of an NFL game.
It turns out, however, that at least some of these patriotic displays are not what they seem.
A New Jersey-based website, NJ.com, has a detailed report that reveals the Department of Defense is paying millions of dollars to many NFL teams in what are essentially paid promotions to honor America's heroes.
When the Jets paused to honor soldiers of the New Jersey Army National Guard at home games during the past four years, it was more than a heartfelt salute to the military — it was also worth a good stack of taxpayer money, records show. The Department of Defense and the Jersey Guard paid the Jets a total of $377,000 from 2011 to 2014 for the salutes and other advertising, according to federal contracts. Overall, the Defense Department has paid 14 NFL teams $5.4 million during that time, of which $5.3 million was paid by the National Guard to 11 teams under similar contracts.
This does not mean, of course, that all halftime events featuring troops or veterans are paid promotions. However, the fact that many are could undermine such efforts and "leaves a bad taste in your mouth" one lawmaker said.
"Those of us go to sporting events and see them honoring the heroes," said Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake in an interview with NJ.com. "You get a good feeling in your heart. Then to find out they're doing it because they're compensated for it, it leaves you underwhelmed. It seems a little unseemly."
It's hardly a secret that the NFL is one of the leading recruitment vehicles for the U.S. military. The problem, Flake implies, is that these events are portrayed as genuine moments of gratitude expressed to America's servicemen, not advertisements.