At just about every football game in the NFL (and every sporting event nationwide), there’s a heartfelt moment where veterans of our military are given tickets to see their favorite team play and then honored on the jumbotron for their service. We cheer emphatically because we’re appreciative and also because it appears as if these franchises are doing something out of the goodness of their heart for the people that deserve it the most.
However, an NJ.com report found that the Department of Defense actually paid 14 NFL franchises in excess of $5.4 million from 2011 to 2014. These teams were actually paid government contracts funded with taxpayer money to honor their military in what the DoD is describing as a recruitment tool.
These 14 teams are the Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers and St. Louis Rams.
Arizona senator Jeff Flake called out the New Jersey Army National Guard last week and was exceedingly critical of the spending because of the presumption at NFL games that fans were witnessing salutes to the military put on by their hometown team against the reality that they were witnessing a paid advertising campaign.
Of the 14 NFL teams that took on the government contracts, payouts ranged from as little as $20,000 to the Dolphins to as much as $1,049,500 for the Falcons. The NJ.com report comes at a time when spending caps have been imposed on the military.