At least 14 NFL teams were paid a collective $5.4 million by the Department of Defense over a four-year period for "salutes like the Hometown Heroes segment and other advertising at professional football games," according to various reports. Per a story written by Christopher Baxter and Jonathan D. Salant with NJ.com:
U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who routinely posts examples of what he calls wasteful spending, called out the Jets' agreement as wasteful and disingenuous.
"Those of us go to sporting events and see them honoring the heroes," Flake said in an interview. "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."
The Jets received a total of $377,000 from 2011 to 2014. Atlanta was paid $1.05 million and the Baltimore Ravens received $884,500, per a follow-up report by Baxter.
According to the report, the Cincinnati Bengals were one of those 14 teams and received $138,960 from the Department of Defense with $134,000 coming from the National Guard from Aug. 25, 2011 through Sept. 24, 2013.
It's political season, so one could shew this issue away as your standard political infighting. It does create a disingenuous feeling when teams honor the military for compensation. When it's taxpayer money that's being used, then people have a right to be frustrated.
My opinion (stop here if you don't like politics... you've been warned): If NFL teams want to honor our troops and military, they have every right to do it whether it's based on compensation or not (preferably not... like really preferably not). Taxpayers have a right to know how their money is being spent; considering the insane lack of oversight and accountability, this money is nickels compared to other expenditures (the Cincinnati Enquirer published a story on Friday about how $700 million are used for projects in Kentucky with U.S. Representative Thomas Massie saying "where this money is spent is up to the Governor and state legislature").