The NFL does just about everything it can to align itself with the military, whether that means discussing itself using the terms of warfare or making overt displays of respect to those who have served in the armed forces. Of course, this is hardly a magnanimous gesture — it serves as positive PR for a league that frequently takes harsh criticism on a host of other issues.
Oh, and in some cases, honoring the military actually makes money for the NFL.
When the Jets paused to honor soldiers of the New Jersey Army National Guard at home games during the past four years, it was more than a heartfelt salute to the military — it was also worth a good stack of taxpayer money, records show.
The Department of Defense and the Jersey Guard paid the Jets a total of $377,000 from 2011 to 2014 for the salutes and other advertising, according to federal contracts. Overall, the Defense Department has paid 14 NFL teams $5.4 million during that time, of which $5.3 million was paid by the National Guard to 11 teams under similar contracts.
No one ends up looking good here. The military is found to be giving taxpayer money to a sports league to put on what amounts to displays of propaganda and recruitment. The sports league, rather than simply paying respect to those who serve the country, is lining its own pockets. It’s just one of the many reasons we should be uncomfortable when the NFL tries to profit from its association with the military.