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article imageSenators: NFL should not be paid to honor our troops

By Karen Graham     Jun 5, 2015 in Politics
After an investigation by into payments the NFL received for honoring veterans came to light on May 7, A group of Senators took the Defense Department to task, filing an amendment to ban the use of taxpayer funds to honor troops at sporting events.
On Thursday, Senators John McCain, R-Arizona, Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, and Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, filed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would ban the spending of taxpayer funds to honor American military troops at sporting events.
In a statement released June 4 by Senators McCain, Flake and Blumenthal, They said, “Football fans across America learned last month that several NFL teams were honoring U.S. service members not out of a sense of patriotism, but for profit in the form of millions of dollars from the U.S. Department of Defense."
The statement also said: "Over the last three years, the National Guard paid NFL teams nearly $7 million for marketing and advertising contracts, including $675,000 to the New England Patriots, which included the team’s “True Patriot” promotion, in which the team honored Guard soldiers during home game half-time shows. Other contracts funded color guard performances, flag ceremonies, and appearance fees to players for honoring local high school coaches and visiting students."
As reported on May 11 by Digital Journal, Senator Flake was made aware of public documents detailing marketing contracts showing the NFL had been receiving funds between 2011 and 2014. On May 12, Sen. McCain ripped into NFL owners, calling them "disgraceful" for taking money from the U.S. Military to honor servicemen and women.
"We just kind of stumbled on this, but it turns out that we're paying a lot of money, some accounts of $5 million over two years, some $5 million just in one year, and we're really trying to find out what those figures are and what they're used for," Flake told CNN in an interview on May 12.
New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie, in an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper said the Jets should give the money they received back to the National Guard. "If the money was paid to the Jets just for saluting the troops, they should give the money back, because we should be saluting the troops because of what they do for our country," he said.
In a government oversight report released in May, McCain highlighted $49 million spent by the National Guard in 2014 on marketing and advertising with professional sports organizations, all this despite the fact that the Guard is facing "serious shortfalls" in the funds needed to pay and train troops.
The proposed amendment also very nicely suggests that the funds received in exchange for tributes be donated to organizations that support active duty personnel, veterans, and their families. While the amendment is not part of the House-passed defense authorization bill, it will likely be included once the two chambers meet to hash it out.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy responded to the news of the amendment, saying it "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," McCarthy said. "Military spending on recruiting efforts should not be confused with programs that support our nation's active military and veterans. The NFL's long history of honoring and supporting our troops will continue because it is the right thing to do."
More about NFL, honoring troops, National guard, National Defense Authorization Act, Amendment
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