In 2014, the National Football League (NFL), which fields 32 teams with a combined value of almost $46 billion and $9.5 billion in revenue, charged the United States Military $5.4 million to hold ceremonies at NFL games to honor our troops serving here at home and overseas.
The NFL, which operates as an unincorporated nonprofit 501(c)(6) association that does not pay income taxes (although the teams do) reportedly paid 14 NFL teams $5.4 million over a three-year period to honor our troops during football games.
The fourteen teams involved in “Pay for Patriotism” scheme are:
1. Atlanta Falcons $1.05 million
2. Baltimore Ravens $884,500
3. Buffalo Bills $679,000
4. Indianapolis Colts $620,000
5. Minnesota Vikings $605,000
6. Green Bay Packers $600,000
7. New York Jets $377,500
8. Kansas City Chiefs $250,000
9. Cincinnati Bengals $138,960
10. Dallas Cowboys $62,500
11. St. Louis Rams $60,000
12. Pittsburgh Steelers $36,000
13. Cleveland Browns $22,500
14. Miami Dolphins $20,000
The National Journal’s based its report on the payments on the agreement the military had with the New York Jets’, the Department of Defense and the New Jersey Guard.
The agreement included a “Hometown Hero” segment, in which the Jets feature a soldier or two on the big screen, announce their names and ask the crowd to thank them for their service. The soldiers and three friends also get seats in the Coaches Club for the game.
In addition to the “Hometown Hero” portion of the agreement, the relationship included advertising and marketing services… a kickoff video message from the Guard… digital advertising on stadium screens… online advertising… and meeting space for a meeting or event.
Soldiers also attended the annual kickoff lunch in New York City where they are given a chance to meet and take pictures with the players for promotional purposes and to participate in a charity event in which coaches and players build or rebuild a playground or park.
Upon learning of the “Pay for Patriotism” arrangement, Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said:
“It is an egregious and unnecessary waste of taxpayer dollars.” “They realize the public believes they’re doing it as a public service or a sense of patriotism…” and “It leaves a bad taste in your mouth.”
One only needs to think back to the sacrifice made by Patrick Daniel “Pat” Tillman – a destined for stardom, multimillion dollar, long term contract football superstar who gave up his chance at riches and fame to serve in the United States Army out of his sense of duty to country following the September 11, 2001 attacks on our nation.
Tillman joined the Army Rangers and served several tours in combat before dying in the mountains of Afghanistan on April 22, 2004 in a friendly fire incident.
The Army posthumously promoted Tillman from Specialist to Corporal. He also received posthumous Silver Star and Purple Heart medals. The Silver Star is the third-highest military decoration for valor awarded to members of the United States Armed Forces.
Maybe the NFL could dedicate the proceeds from the unpaid portion of the NFL contract he gave up to serve his country to honor the men and women who serve in our nations’ military today to keep us free.