As a result, the military is closely associated with football. You have teams, squads, special ops/teams, a lot of things that lend themselves to being football being an analog for the Theater Of War. During the climax of last summer's When The Game Stands Tall, a high school football team that loses a game because one of their players died and they couldn't cope with the pressure, visits a military hospital where injured soldiers urge them to overcome their inner demons and win the game. (We are going to ignore how stupid it is that soldiers with PTSD and missing limbs are reacting in any way other than, "You fucking crybabies!") Football and the armed services are best buds. Well, sort of. Ever since 9/11 and Pat Tillman, the NFL has been tributing our troops, saluting them and saying what great Americans they are, risking their lives to protect this great country.
Well, turns out the NFL is paid to say that.
The Department Of Defense catagorizes it as advertising. The New York Jets got $377,000 from the DoD and the New Jersey Army Nation Guard from 2011 to 2014 for their "salutes and other advertising." Since 2011, the DoD has paid 14 NFL teams $5.4 milion, and the National Guard has paid 11 NFL teams $5.3 mil. This little arrangement got out because of US Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), calling it an "egregious and unnecessary waste of taxpayer dollars." "Those of us go to sporting evenets and see them honoring the heroes," he told 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."
To be fair, it's not like anyone arches an eyebrow at the recruiting commercials for the Army and such that run during the games. And the armed forces have a long history of using "soldiers are cool" propaganda -- a Navy rep once called Top Gun the best recruitment poster they ever had.
But if you sit there, getting a little misty eyed as the NFL salutes someone you know who is risking their lives and living in hellacious conditions you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy, just remember -- the NFL would salute Twinkie The Kid if Hostess paid them enough.