Sound Off: Do You Buy the NFL’s Defense of ‘Paid Patriotism’?



A couple of weeks ago, commenters were outraged by news that quite a few of those “military tributes at NFL games were actually advertisements paid for by the Pentagon with U.S. taxpayer dollars, totaling over $6 million over the last four years. The NFL overlords have now fought back with a statement that defends the deals.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy objects to news reports like ours and opposes an amendment sponsored by Senators John McCain, R-Ariz., Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. that would prohibit such deals in the future.

“This amendment paints a completely distorted picture of the relationship between NFL teams and our military. We agree that no one should be paid to honor our troops. Military spending on recruiting efforts should not be confused with programs that support our nation’s active military and veterans.”

The league’s response includes a long list of military charities it’s supported over the last half century but it never actually denies that it’s been taking money in exchange for staging the military tributes.

Senator McCain’s not buying it: “What makes these expenditures all the more troubling is that, at the same time that the Guard was spending millions on professional sports advertising, it was also running out of money for critical training for our troops.”

Does the NFL’s support of the military in other ways make the sponsorships less offensive? Or is this just another case of rich guys using the troops to get even richer? Sound off!


  • Connor

    Sorry, the nfl is a company, not a governmental organization. Or at least it is supposed to be. As much as it may bother me that the nfl may not advertise or support the the troops without pentagon money, I can’t and won’t do anything about it…besides maybe stop watching it. They’re not obligated to anyone, even our troops.

  • LT Z

    Taxpayer Dollars should not be used to Fund NFL…The Feds have been fleecing the public enough with their own agenda…someone in elected office needs to grow a set of brass ones and speak out…if they want to have air-time to show support for our troops, then use NFL sponsor contributions but NOT Tax Dollars…

  • Retired in Atlanta

    It is a Shameful thing to have to pay any organization to Support those among us that lay down their lives on a daily basis to preserve and protect their rights and freedoms. It is more shameful for the National Guard to spend that money foolishly on advertising when the soldiers under their Command go untrained because of it.

  • Gene

    The NFL should be ashamed to take money to have a military ceremony at the beginning or half time of a professional game.

  • David

    Profits above country. They should be ashamed!

    • Joe B

      Does that mean the guys that make bullets, clothing, tanks etc. should not make a profit?

  • Stubby

    What’s next NFL and Nike logos on military uniforms? Is anyone in charge?

    • Airborne_fister

      It already has happened. Look at the Fobbits boots

  • jack

    The NFL is already exempt from taxes, why should they make money off these “military tributes”? If they really are supportive, they will pay for the military to show up.

    • snut

      not to far off the mark all of the services have licensed their logos for civilian use on clothing etc… I have a pair of US Army “Joe Boxer” PJs

      • Connor

        I didn’t know nfl was exempt from taxes. This definitely leads me to rethink what I said in my first comment.

    • Yellow Devil

      Just to clarify, the NFL, as a league, is considered a 501(c)6 organization. According to its 2011 IRS filings, the NFL is a “trade association” that promotes the interests of its clubs, hence the exemption from taxes. But the individual teams and franchises are for profit and taxed accordingly I believe.

      Personally, it’s the result of the problems with our byzantine Progressive income tax code that carves out a litany of exemptions, but I digress.

      But my criticism on “pay to tribute” the military members still stands.

  • that dee

    They should announce it is a “paid for announcement”. Probably won’t lose fans. Paid tributes should be off the board. Shame on those who approved those payments. Time to stop them!

  • That dee

    ….and why IS the NFL tax exempt? How about a reversal. Think of those numbers.
    Too many people are struggling with tax bill and IRS threats. Cancel those out.

  • Bill C

    I guess, that when the NFL was approached to show support for the troops they said of course, but first show me the money. Lamentably, the NFL showed their real patriotism which has nothing to do with supporting the troops. Bill C

  • Jose B. Gonzales

    USN, CMC retired. I spent a tour on Recruiting Duty at the end of Vietnam in Galveston, TX when the military was not popular with a lot of our citizens. During that time the US Military spent tons of money on Recruiting promotional ads. Patriotism is not shared by all of Americans and where there is a dollar to be made promoters will jump on every opportunity to make a buck, its called Capitalism. When I was on recruiting duty in 1973 we paid for recruiting posters, Ads, TV promotions,billboard ads and most likely in our Military Times? The military most likely continues with that practice of paying for recruiting advertisement? I would think that companies could do some public service ads and show support and patriotism towards our military troops? The bottom line our troop were put out in the public eye and even if it was at the expense of the all mighty dollar!

  • Gunny

    WHY is the nfl tax exempt. the owners are multi millionaires , I have to pay taxes why shouldn’t they ? The nfl is greedy , hell Atln was fined for adding fake crowd noise . Nothing but overpaid wife beaters

  • Tim

    I personally am offended that the NFL doesn’t support our troops without being paid for it. Even more disturbing is the fact they don’t mind taking a bow for this “PAID” support, making it appear they are doing it out of patriotism. If they are going to continue this practice. Any such tributes should be followed by a statement that “This was a paid commercial announcement by the department of defense”. At least that way there is no undue credit given where it is not deserved and the public is not misled that the NFL is anything other than a commercial enterprise not above profiteering from the sacrafice of our military. I know one could argue they are no different from the networks who get paid for such advertisements, but the difference is there is no pretense that it is anything other than a paid commercial.

  • Gregory

    is a shame in this day in age where support only comes for those who fault after 911 and forgetting all those beforehand that set the grounds for military accomplishments in the past and into the future. I think any money being used always go to those veterans that have returned from conflicts or encouragement by the command of the commander in chief. and the money should be use to get a better military person the safety equipment that that person needs to be in combat or any situation that better protects their well-being to return safely in mind and in body back to their beloved ones. I disagree that any taxpayer money should be used in this fake promotion of serving our troops and using it basically for advertisement to try to get new people to join the military. it is a shame but it is business and nothing beats the military industrial complex.

  • Ron Ellsworth

    What makes this even MORE disgusting – the NFL is TAX EXEMPT!!

  • navy_survivor

    I read they do the same thing for baseball teams. Aren’t they tax exempt as well? Additionally these teams use local taxpayer money to build brand new shiny stadiums with huge luxury boxes for the rich elites who could well afford to build these stadiums for football and baseball teams out of their own pockets.



  • dave

    I always thought the tributes were a part of the NFL’s public service program. I am totally opposed to charging the military for it. The NFL should be grateful for the brave service provided in a free country where they play and make big bucks.

  • Jim Gulley

    Other than Rocky Bleir and Roger Staubach, name 5 NFL’ers that served in Vietnam? The fact of the matter is that you probably can’t because slots in the National Guard and Reserves were held open for many professional athletes. The hypocrisy of that soured me on professional sports and I’ve considered the NFL a phoney flag waving organization ever since. Nevertheless, Americans love their football and this is just another example of the disconnect between the general populace and those that serve!

  • Actually, I lost interest in the NFL several years ago when I realized how corrupt it is.

  • Dave

    As is always the case in corporate America – “It’s all about the money”

  • Robert

    The NFL is one of the wealthiest organizations in the world, and pays it’s “employees” exorbitant salaries. As a private group they may charge whatever the market will bear for their marketing or advertising. That being said, my argument is not as much with the NFL as it is with the military for spending millions of dollars on what can only be called “good will” advertising, when the military is constantly struggling to work within their budget, and at times cutting training time for a lack of funding. Spend the money on training, readiness, equipment, etc. and let the NFL make their money off of beer ads and the crowds in the stadiums.

  • Intruda3

    Knowledge is power and knowing is half the battle. Additionally the NFL is tax exempt which means they will not pay taxes on anything including the money for military advertisement. We the people are funding it all. If you’ve ever served in the military you’d understand that no matter how much honoring is done nothing adds up to the sacrifices given, and we pay taxes on our military pay.

  • Retired USAF

    The NFL should sponsor more FREE half time ceremonies that honor our military at half time!! Why should we pay the NFL for those ceremonies that honor our veterans? In fact, the NFL should not be tax exempt and they should offer military discounts to active duty military men and women who are serving our nation. The NFL is already making millions of dollars!!!

  • teenage spy

    I am offended by any advertising by the Pentagon. Bring back the draft.

  • anonymous

    The NFL claims this is advertising money spent to advertise the armed forces. What a crock, if anything it is advertising for the NFL. They are attempting to show their support and patriotism, saying he look at us, even though a lot of our players have no boundaries or moral standards, we still support those who defend the nation. We’re good guys and we support good guys. No one sees one of these “tributes” and says to their self, hey I want to join the military and lose a limb, or be separated from my family so much and so long, that the NFL will give me a tribute someday.

  • the ol sarge

    Guys, have any of you thought about this before you started bashing the NFL. Personaly, I haven’t watched a game on purpose since the 1974/75 season, but, all the comercials air during the games are paid for buy the companies they represent. The superbowl games……ha ha comercials cost a whole lot to the companies and the network that airs the game gets the cash. The comercials that get aired are the for the companies that have, or are willing to put up the millions to the network to have the commercials aired for them. The games are set on a time table, 4 quarters with a set time minus time outs and reviewing questional plays, and while you at home are still watching the game, an hour after it ends, the 60,000 fans at the stadium are still trying to get out to get out of the parking lot. So the Defense department spends 6 mil for a commercial whoopeee, what about the billions the Defense Department spends for equipment that it never recieves from corporations because somebody might lose their job if the corporation don’t get the contract hmm.
    Ponder that a while

  • swabjockey

    The NFL, between it’s pandering to women beaters and abusers, drug abusers, de-flategate and other dubious situations has shown how worthy it is of loyalty and adoration by the public. They have had more than sufficient support from our military members over the years and one would think they might reward some of that loyalty. Fuggedaboutit!

  • 1SG USA (RET)

    NFL should remember it is the Soldier (Sailor, Marine, Airman) who shed his/her blood to protect the freedom of making millions playing games to entertain the masses. Honoring them should free. NFL, MLB, NBA, MSL, etc. Tax exemption status should come with mandatory requirement to honor our service members at each and every event with enthusiastically and meaningful.