The NFL came under scrutiny in 2015 when it was revealed that teams were being paid by the government to honor military troops through flag ceremonies, soldier salutes, reunions and things of that nature. Commissioner Roger Goodell responded to criticism by saying the league would conduct audits of each team and determine if there was money that should be given back as a result of “sponsored patriotism.”
On Thursday, news broke that the league would in fact be paying back some of those marketing funds — more than $700,000 worth.
That’s just a drop in the bucket, as the Department of Defense has reportedly dished out more than $9 million on these sporting event tributes in the last four years alone. Each of the top 10 NFL teams in paid patriotism earnings received in excess of $400,000 each, with the Atlanta Falcons earning the most money ($879,000).
So while it’s good that the NFL is paying back some of this money that probably never should have been taken in the first place, it’s also likely just an attempt to save face. After all, this is the same business that fined its own employees for going out of their way to show non-mandated patriotism last year.
The league is all about Salute To Service, but only if it helps line their pockets.