In a joint report titled “Tackling Paid Patriotism,” senators John McCain and Jeff Flake uncovered that the NFL and other organizations were paid to promote patriotism for recruitment purposes, paid for by the military using taxpayer money.
“Along with sports fans across America, I was appalled to learn last month that many of the ceremonies honoring members of our armed services at NFL games are not actually being conducted out of a sense of patriotism, but for profit in the form of millions in taxpayer dollars going from the Department of Defense to wealthy NFL franchises,”
The report details blatant waste and abuse and may be little more than a “taxpayer-funded boondoggle,”
Unfortunately, contrary to the public statements made by DOD and the NFL, the majority of the contracts—72 of the 122 contracts we analyzed—clearly show that DOD paid for patriotic tributes at professional football, baseball, basketball, hockey, and soccer games. These paid tributes included on-field color guard, enlistment and reenlistment ceremonies, performances of the national anthem, full-field flag details, ceremonial first pitches͕ and puck drops. The National Guard paid teams for the “opportunity” to sponsor military appreciation nights and to recognize its birthday. It paid the Buffalo Bills to sponsor its Salute to the Service game. DOD even paid teams for the “opportunity” to perform surprise welcome home promotions for troops returning from deployments and to recognize Wounded Warriors.
Meanwhile, the National Guard Bureau and Army National Guard announced a $101 million shortfall and experienced issues paying their own soldiers.