Fans who see troops honored at halftime events during NFL games may not be aware that a lot of the time, their tax dollars are paying for the tribute to the military. According to an NJ.com investigation, the Pentagon has paid a total of $5.4 million to 14 NFL teams since 2011 for events like the New York Jets' "Hometown Heroes" tribute to members of the New Jersey Army National Guard. Most of the paid-for tributes involved the National Guard, and while not every NFL event saluting the troops is part of a promotion, some lawmakers say having teams compensated for patriotic events seems distasteful, Scout.com reports.
"Those of us go to sporting events and see them honoring the heroes," Sen. Jeff Flake tells 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." The public "believes they're doing it as a public service or a sense of patriotism," Flake says. "It leaves a bad taste in your mouth." A Jets spokesman tells the New York Daily News that the team has "consistently supported all five branches of the US armed forces" separately from the Guard sponsorship, and that it recently donated $1 million to a foundation that builds homes for injured service members. (Read more US military stories.)