NOTE: This piece is based off of available media excerpts, and an analysis of the Sen. John McCain and Jeff Flake DOD Report titled “Paid Patriotism”. It can be found in length HERE. For FULL disclose, I am a member of the Army National Guard and a fan of NFL football, particularly the Seattle Seahawks. All opinions voiced herein are my own and are not propagated by any outside influence, agency, or reward.
Every May, millions of people around the United States fly American Flags for a month straight. Memorial Day, a national holiday intended to recognize service members for their ultimate sacrifice in the defense of our great nation, is the reason why. We have long holiday weekends, our families come together, yet there are thousands of families that do not look forward to Memorial Day on an annual basis; precisely because they are missing a member of their family formations. Every day, then, would be on par with Memorial Day for these families. For the estimated 3+ Million living veterans in our country today, the month of November provides little to no relief: We are thanked for our service in defense of our great nation, honored with a day off (or a long weekend, depending on how the calendar falls), and more flags and Yellow Ribbons are flown, again, profusely for about 30 or so days. In essence, one could argue that for 300 days out of the year, Veterans, their families, and friends go largely without recognition.
On or about every summer, the sleeping bear that is the NFL wakes up, trotting off with its 32 franchises on a six month quest to crown a victor. The MLB, NHL, WBNA, NBA, PGA (etc, etc) all begin or end their cyclical seasons in clockwork manners. Since September 11th, 2001, many teams have participated in a “Salute to Service” campaign- recognizing our nation’s veterans and families in a variety of ways. They’ve accomplished this by on field recognitions, surprise homecoming visits for family members of deployed troops, or tickets to preseason and regular season games, at a minimum (The report details the exploits of 122 or more executed contracts by the DOD to many professional sports organizations. I will not parlay my thoughts on all of them, just some of those awarded to the NFL and in particular, the Seattle Seahawks). The Senators report, while intended to highlight fraud, waste, and abuse of tax payer money, sorely misses an underlying point (or many) of why this occurrence happens in the first place.
Let’s rewind the clocks to 5:00 PM, September 11th. I’m sure you could point out exactly where you were, when you witnessed the President Bush declare on live TV that we would find those responsible for the attacks on our nation and bring them to justice. I’m also fairly certain that no FDNY Police Officer or Fire Fighter paid for any of their meals, coffees, beers, or lodging in the days following those horrific tragedies (and for good reason!). Americans bound themselves together as a social, human fabric. An outstretched hand provided all that could be needed, and nothing was asked for in return. It was a similar predicament in October of that year when we invaded Afghanistan, and in March of 2003 when we set out to liberate the people of Iraq from Saddam Hussein. Scores of young men and woman raised their right hands, volunteered for hazardous duty, and marched off to war on their left and right feet, often to devastating and traumatic results.
5,362 deaths have occurred in support of the Global War on Terror (Official Numbers available from DCAS, as of Nov 5, 2015). Over five thousand families lost one or more brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, and friends. Every year, those five thousand families live through both May and November, often receiving well wished (but oft mishandled) vocalizations of support and condolences. Rarely do they ever translate to anything substantial outside of that. Those five thousand families missing a loved one in their formations encounter three or more times each year (Such as a wedding anniversary, a birthday, their actual date of death, Memorial Day and Veterans Day) where this painful remembrance becomes more solidified as a trend, a habit, and a stressor.
Why do we serve? It’s a simple question, with a Ph.D. style answer, fed through a supercomputer, only to come out in Braille. You could ask every one of the living 3+ million living veterans today, and you would likely get a similar number of different responses. It breaks down to something simple, and if you’ve never served or been affected by someone who has (in either a positive or negative light), it will seem simple, naïve, or basic: Service is Service. Service means willingly leaving to undergo a unique experience, a transformation that cannot be undone, and the possibility* of giving one’s life in its pursuit.
I’m guessing by now you’re probably wondering why I’m spending so much time setting the stage regarding service, and not tying the NFL to the supposed squandering of riches and paying professional teams for overpriced recruiting events. I do need to highlight just one more thing before linking the two. Here’s the lengths some fans will go through to see their favorite teams:
2004: Diehard Boston Red Soxs fans wake up at 3 a.m and watch the World Series in Iraq.
2008: DOD allows troops stationed in combat zones the ability to have two Beers while watching the Super Bowl.
2012: I wake up in the desert at some godawful time of the morning (zero dark thirty, to be exact), place a reflective belt on, and join my squad mates in a slow trot to an MWR (Morale, Welfare, and Recreation) tent or rec room, to watch our favorite teams (insert yours here) play (insert opposing teams here).
Yes, in the midst of global chaos and instability, most troops these days are able to watch their favorite teams play live, thanks to leaps and bounds in comfort means and technology. This takes place in many forms. At a small combat outpost in Afghanistan, it can mean thirty or more Marines crowding around a laptop showing the Pittsburgh Steelers. It can mean hundreds of coalition troops cramming into a dining facility to watch on the TV Screens as the NFL’s biggest game, the Super Bowl, airs without them being home in their favorite players jerseys and a beer in hand to cheer them on. Morale is the single most important thing to a deployed service member. None of them want recognition for going to war. Service is Service. Just about every single one of them is searching for some sense of normalcy, the chance to tell their loved ones on their next phone call. “Babe, did you see the Jags this week?!? I couldn’t believe it! We got this!”. It’s a connection.
The NFL, a leviathan in the professional sports world, seeks connections. It’s no secret that the league wants fans to be involved with the game, and its franchises, on almost every imaginable level. Involvement begets merchandise purchasing, hell, there’s even some fantasy football (it’s not gambling, it’s a great pastime), a debate what team is greater, it’s all good. The heroes of the gridiron are the players, more protagonist and antagonist then minstrels and playwrights. On a weekly basis, we tune in to see them develop, to err, to win big, or come up just short. We feel human emotions: rage, arrogance, despair, and, most importantly, hope when watching them. Trust me, when its 3 a.m., you live in a tent in the desert (or a cot on the side of a mountain is hostile territory), and it’s game time, you silently apologize to your body for depriving it of a crucial circadian rhythm. Because it’s game time, and that’s that. Sleep can wait, the Seahawks are playing the 49ers. It’s that connection to something we can’t quite describe that keeps us coming back for more.
For service members returning home from a combat theatre, there really is NO better feeling than hugging your loved ones, crying tears of joy, and pretending like you know how to drive on U.S. streets after not doing that for the last 12-15 months (For the record, there are at least two countries troops currently deploy to don’t have stop signs or street lights. That type of driving freedom takes some getting used to letting go of).
Whether or not Sen. McCain and Flake would like to realize it, deployments would suck even more than they currently do if troops were completely cut off from their NFL connection. Troops in a unit who share a bunk on the same Navy ship could absolutely despise one another on that Sunday evening jaunt, and go right back to being teammates after the game (with a little playful ribbing, of course). The connection then, becomes a part of our social construct, a further ideation of who we are, another layer to the Ogre-like onions that U.S. Service Members are (You know, Shrek? Ogres are like onions? We have layers? I digress). It makes us (sort of) forget that we’re thousands of miles away for extended periods of time.
So of course, when you see that your favorite NFL team is partaking in a “Salute to Service” in the month of November, you don’t ask questions. Partially because you believe that the team is doing it in November to honor the nation’s veterans. And partially because you believe that your connection with your favorite NFL team(s) isn’t subject to being contracted out to the highest bidder.
If you listen solely to what these two Senators are saying, then you’ll believe just that. You as an American taxpayer are funding lavish recruiting experiences for NFL teams to ‘appear’ like they are supporting the veteran populous of America. You’ll watch and clap in unison with the crowd as a young parent walks out with their dazed and confused child as their other parent suddenly reappears in their life after being gone for a year, because, God Dammit, it’s November, thank you for your service, America! (read that line out loud. You’ll get a laugh for sure) You’ll feel relief for that family that they’re finally back together. But then you (might want to skip ahead of this part if you’ve got a weak stomach) lose interest.
You forget on November 12th that there are still thousands of Americans in harm’s way around the world.
You forget that for one instance, surrounding by 70,000 screaming fans, that a family came together. You watch the biggest American flag you’ve ever seen unfold, handled by uniformed service members. The national anthem plays, and you feel a slight tinge of patriotism. Once that flag is rolled up, you forget that for those in uniform, this just isn’t any given Sunday; it may be the last good one (in memory) that they may ever have.
Since the inception of the Armed Forces, recruiting has been a vital way for the services to maintain their lifeblood: Able bodied young adults who are always needed to fill our combat formations, to patrol while tired and hungry, to fly deep into contested territory, or fill seemingly ‘mundane’ or typical positions such as human resources, supply, support or staff billets. They set sail on gray hulks of metal, only to come back for a few short months before going underway again. A dual theatre war meant the number of troops required was almost always more than we had on hand. Indeed, every day, hundreds of troops either leave the service honorably, retire, or are separated. It’s no secret that young adults today are no longer motivated by intrinsic things, and during the height of ‘the Surge’ into both Iraq and Afghanistan, many a troop will gladly tell you than an enlistment bonus was a big part of why they signed the bottom line. I am one of these troops. Education benefits, such as the Montgomery G.I. Bill, are a mainstay in today’s recruiting atmosphere when at a point in time, it was just an addendum to your enlistment contract. Times change, and so do those who serve our country.
So let’s take a look at what this report for what it is at its core: the DOD providing money to various services to facilitate military friendly events, promote the armed services and their benefits, and (selfishly) remind the legions of fans out there that maybe, just maybe, there’s more to life than watching two 53 man rosters compete on a weekly basis for glory. At a rudimentary level, there is no more explaining to do: The DOD gives each service a set amount of money set aside in the National Defense Authorization Act (referred to here on out as the NDAA) for recruiting purposes, to be spent in manners that are legal and in accordance with published regulation and guidance. That’s broad, vague, and you’re likely correct if you think that this 2+2=4 formula doesn’t always come out right. Because sometimes it doesn’t.
I have to be vehemently clear and up front when saying this: Taxpayer money isn’t the issue at hand here for me, it’s more the issue that Congress (who voted to fund us to go to war) appears to want little or nothing to do with American Veterans when they return from overseas. This is a perception intensified by a tumultuous period of substandard leadership and action from a number of government agencies, notably the Veterans Administration. This rant is NOT about them. I see in this report that there are over 50 teams and organizations who accepted some form of money (from the DOD or its subcontracting affiliates) to host ‘military appreciation’ events, while appearing to fraud those who would ask of its accountability and utilization.
The good senators wonder aloud if these recruiting events actually convince troops to join. I’ll break this scenario down for you. Let’s say ten Army recruiters visit a game, like the Cincinnati Bengals vs. the New Orleans Saints. Over 60,000 screaming fans fill the stadium up. Those recruiters speak to thousands of interested fans, or well-wishers who take the chance to thank someone in uniform. Maybe they’re lucky enough to generate a several hundred leads, and out of those leads, maybe 100 or so enlistments happen. This is recruiting math- keeping your potential recruit hopper full, always trying to find the best medically and mentally qualified person to serve in our formations. You’ve got to aim large to get the numbers, as less than 1% of today’s youth are actually fit for military service. Currently, only 1% of the U.S. population serves in the Armed Forces. That’s it. Recruiters are looking for the 1% of an abysmally small (and shrinking) 1%. Recruiters aren’t always allowed unfettered access to schools to expound upon the wonders of military service. Sometimes this means rubbing elbows with your potential recruits in their own communities.
It doesn’t matter to me (a U.S. taxpayer) that various states in the Army National Guard partnered with NFL teams. In fact, I’m not surprised the teams receive compensation for the use of their facilities, likeness, time, and access to players. Very little in this world is free anymore. You’re only kidding yourself if you believe otherwise. I’m not a commanding officer, but if I was able to legally use funds given to me by the DOD for recruiting purposes, and it was economically feasible to partner with an NFL team, I’d do it as many times as the budget would allow. You only need read up to understand why.
Football is a game. Its raw emotions, calculated plays, and bright lights draw piles of money and experiences that can really never be counted. Football is an American pastime that is almost unparalleled in its ability to enhance morale. Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, Sailors, and Coast Guardsman love the game of Football. If given the opportunity, they will watch or participate in it. The effect that Morale has on recruiting cannot be understated. Happy Troops stay in uniform, unhappy ones do not (with some exceptions). Happy Football players stay in uniform, unhappy ones do not (again, with some exceptions). Are you beginning to see the parallels?
What’s more outrageous is that the NFL is a non-profit entity. That may be a significant part of why so much heat is being generated at the league for ‘accepting’ large sums of money from Government agencies in support of military endeavors. When you compare the $6.8 million dollars received by the sports leagues over the last few years versus what they take home every year, the DODs ‘fraud, waste, and abuse’ looks more like an rookie running back salary than that of the fleecing of the American taxpayer. This report, while good intentioned, look more like muck racking and political banter in pre-election year, than it does of hard, investigative journalism meant to end corruption. Because if we’re going to talk about Fraud, Waste, and Abuse, we can certainly start by discussing transportation of Senators flying First Class on airlines for their travel.
Sure, by looking at this report, there are many team names I was confused about seeing. The New England Patriots, for example, partnered with the Massachusetts National Guard for a segment they called ‘True Patriot’ which sounds like an incredible evening for a deserving Soldier and their family. The money also went to pay for season tickets, presumably used for deserving service members and their family’s private, non-transferrable use. The Massachusetts National Guard, by the way, is the oldest military formation in this country’s history, founded in 1636. It’s a safe assumption they rock the Red, White, and Blue for many reasons, and obviously would participate in an event with their home (and arguably favorite) team. By the way, Go Red Sox!
The Seattle Seahawks found themselves on this list as well. According to the report, Seattle accepted $453,500 from FY 12-FY 14 for:
Taxpayer-funded “paid patriotism” and perks in these contracts included:*
• Opportunity for WAARNG to hold reenlistment, enlistment and/or flag retirement ceremonies
at Century Link Field or Virginia Mason Athletic Center on four occasions in FY2012 and one
occasion in both FY2013 and FY2014
• Three player appearances for up to 40 recruits/students and pregame reenlistments at one
game (FY2013, FY2014)
• A WAARNG-sponsored high school coach recognition program that awarded each of 21
honorees a Seahawks jacket, an autographed football, a framed certificate, a $225 Sports
Authority gift card and a $500 donation to the school’s football program (FY2014)
FY 12 Seattle Seahawks W912K3-12-P-0050 $180,000
FY 13 Seattle Seahawks W912K3-13-P-0069 $153,500
FY 14 Seattle Seahawks W912K3-14-P-0039 $120,000
*The item(s) in this list are a subset and may not comprise the full scope of the contract(s) or taxpayer costs
Note: The FY2014 contract is a small business set-aside (NAICS 711211)
So, $453,000 dollars over three fiscal years does seem like a large amount of money to the average American. Simply glancing at this report would provide the assumption that the players, coaches or organizational staff themselves are being paid for their time in front of uniformed service members. Furthermore, how dare the Seahawks honor a high school football coach and donate to their program? The nerve, right? How are we supposed to be outraged that a professional sports organization spends any amount of time with troops? When government officials go on official travel to visit troops in Afghanistan, they are paid per diem and their expenses are covered (with limitations). It should come as no surprise that other organizations on the opposite side of the glass from us, do something similar. If the Washington National Guard paid for reenlistment ceremonies, that is not an issue to me. My reenlistment took place in an office overseas. I signed the form, and promptly walked out of the office. If I was offered the chance of a lifetime to reenlist in front of my favorite team or in its stadium, I’d do it instantly. You would be hard pressed to find a commanding officer in the military who would turn their nose down towards a chance to make morale skyrocket.
The Seahawks released a statement, saying simply that:
“The NFL has informed us that we are one of several NFL clubs whose National Guard agreements are being reviewed by the senators who obtained the agreements through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
The Seahawks have had a marketing partnership with the Washington Army National Guard (WAANG) dating back to 2012. These agreements include media and marketing elements to increase awareness and aid in recruiting efforts. The reenlistments, enlistments, flag retirements, player appearances and the High School Coach of the Week programs were provided at no cost but outlined in the agreement at the request of WAANG.
Our Community Outreach department has a long history of supporting our troops and veterans. The Seahawks annually host military men and women at games and practices, make visits to local bases, organize appreciation ceremonies and plan a number of other events that support and honor our troops and veterans. These efforts are all done at no cost to the military. Spending on recruiting efforts should not be confused with programs that support our nation’s military veterans.”
Basically, it appears that whatever amount of money the Guard was paid out for a contract, seems to be either unaccounted for, or allocated for other uses within its operating budget. I find it incredibly hard to believe that over 400K just goes missing. The Washington National Guard made their due diligence apparent- their no cost agreement is outlined at their request (most likely for legal accountability). Either way, Seattle makes it explicitly clear that there is a distinguishable difference between their participation with recruiting assistance, and programs that support veterans. In case you’re not aware of these programs, here are a few:
“Heroes of 12 Seats
The Heroes of 12 seats are a distinctive row of six seats in CenturyLink Field that are reserved for special military guests at each home game. Each seat features the official emblems of all five U.S. Military service branches. We provide parking and food vouchers.
Military Base Visits
The Seattle Seahawks organize annual visits to military bases across Washington. Coaches, players, Sea Gals and mascots participate in every visit, interacting with service members, veterans and their families for special recognition and shared experiences.
Military Day at Training Camp
The Seattle Seahawks work directly with military bases within the Puget Sound to recognize and thank military personnel for their service with an exclusive experience at the team’s training camp at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. Service members, veterans and their families watch practice from our exclusive patio location, enjoy lunch and have opportunities to meet players and coaches.
Reenlistment Oath Ceremony
We provide a pregame reenlistment opportunity for one service member at each home game, with four game tickets and parking. Other service members are invited to join the ceremony in the back of the south end zone 30 minutes prior to kickoff.
Military Sea Hawkers
The Military Sea Hawkers are a chapter of the Seattle Seahawks official booster club. It is free to join for all current and former service members. Military Sea Hawkers are eligible for tickets and other benefits.”
The last perk, the Military Seahawkers, accomplishes many things, including salutes to service outside of the month of November, such as when a Season ticket holder offered two tickets to the 2015 Seattle Seahawks training camp to members of the MSH. The MSH also provided volunteer manpower at the Russell Wilson Passing Academies, training camps, and many more events. If you’re wondering about the Military Day at training camp, and hypothesizing the Seahawks taking exorbitant amounts of money from the DOD and Joe taxpayer, the tickets cost $7 a piece.
While these are great and all, you can make a strong argument that one of the marquee events that the Seahawks sponsor for uniformed DOD members and their families is their draft day parties. In these events, troops congregate on military bases, where food, fun, and a once in a lifetime experience occurs. That experience is revealing the draft pick for the Seahawks. Yes, you read that correctly. A deserving service member stands up in front of cameras, and breaks the news of the newest member of their favorite team. You could also argue that the Seahawks spend so much time visiting bases in Washington (Naval Base Kitsapp-Bangor, Joint Base Lewis McChord, Fairchild Airforce Base, and the Coast Guard Base Seattle), that they could probably be seen checking out the local electronic deals in your PX/BX, and you wouldn’t notice anything out of place.
In addition, a number of NFL teams have players/coaches who came from Military backgrounds, to include: Robert Griffin III (Washington Redskins), Jermaine Kearse (Seattle Seahawks), Pat Tillman (Arizona Cardinals), Jonathan Stewart/ Ron Rivera (Carolina Panthers), just to name a few. Oh, and Seattle offered former Green Beret Nate Boyer a chance to long snap for their team. Which he did, in preseason. But I’m sure conspiracy theorists may try and link that to this report, however weak the link actually is.
We’ll just take another step further, highlighting that the Seahawks adopt a unit annually. This unit conducts a formal change of command ceremony on Century Link field. That unit is then responsible for the ‘colors’, a 12th man flag that’s traveled to (of many places) the North and South Poles (courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard). The current parent unit responsible for the colors is current a Marine Security Forces Detachment. It’s safe to assume that members of those units who happen to be Seattle fans likely get a chance to go behind the scenes and view aspects of the game that we cannot see from our massive HDTVs. Again, you’d be hard pressed to find a commander who doesn’t want to provide an opportunity for their troops. Accordingly, for those troops who fly the 12th man flag in Iraq or Afghanistan, the chance to be involved with their favorite team in Seattle, is again, a no brainer.
Maybe I’m biased here. There’s a chance that taxpayers aren’t thrilled that their dollars are being driven in an intent to provide morale boosting events for military members. Not exactly a popular platform to stand on, but troops fight and defend Americans right to freedom of speech, so I see how it could exist. I would say that maybe the DOD provided money to just select teams, but at 18/32 teams in league, there has to be some method to the madness. This latest ‘fiasco’ is just another black eye for the National Guard, who has come under fire in recent years for incidents as corrupt kickbacks for referrals, big dollar deals with NASCAR and professional fishing, and budget shortfalls, such as “in 2014, while the National Guard was spending millions on professional sports advertising, it was simultaneously requesting additional funds from Congress to cover a more than $100 million shortfall to pay its troops and conduct critical training.” (taken directly from the report)
Returning to what I explained earlier, it’s my understanding the budgets at almost all levels of the DOD include very specific language (especially pertaining to troops pay, retirement benefits, new combat vehicles/planes, etc), alongside very broad language, such as asking for a few extra billions dollars for OCO (or, operational contingencies overseas) missions abroad. If you’re going to talk about hypocrisy involving troops and budgetary means, it may behoove you to ask the military point blank what they spend on facilities/custodial/public works services, especially contracted companies who provide a significant buffer and notoriously long time to accomplish simple work orders or requests on those military installations. You’ve likely seen this article about subpar barracks buildings in North Carolina. The military’s swiftness to resolve this was surprising, as on a majority of posts there can be building issues that take months or longer to fix. Dwindling defense budgets makes these timelines languish even longer due to inadequate staffing. If the reports argument was one of allocating MORE funds towards renovating barracks, units, and equipment (INSTEAD of marketing), it would make more sense.
The Senators don’t even seem to really be that upset about the issuing of the contracts, saying in the excerpt that:
“To be fair, some of what was contracted appears to be legitimate marketing and advertising activities for which we would expect DOD to compensate these teams, such as stadium signs, social media mentions, and booth space for recruiters at games. Many of the contracts included on-field recognition of high school football players and coaches in support of coach or player of the week-type programs, as well as game tickets, the use of team facilities, special facility tours, appearances by players or team mascots, and team apparel or autographed memorabilia. These items were often used as recruiting tools to gain access to potential recruits or community influencers like coaches, teachers, counselors and administrators.
While we fully support the intent of the coaches and players programs and understand the need to cultivate long-term relationships with individuals who can influence the decisions of prospective recruits, we find the tactics used by the military services questionable and the benefit to taxpayers undefined. If the most compelling message about military service we can deliver to prospective recruits and influencers is the promise of game tickets, gifts, and player appearances, we need to rethink our approach to how we are inspiring qualified men and women to military service.”
Way to get a last minute jab in there, Sirs. Young men and woman are knocking down our recruiting doors to because we offered them NFL game tickets. Oh wait, parts of the U.S. Army actually were unable to meet their recruiting goals this year. In the midst of a postwar drawdown, budget analysts turn their eyes to our nation’s military, whom they publicly regard as heroes, but in private assume are fleecing the American people to get TV time on Sunday. Only in America can you be a hero for enlisting on Friday, a 15 second celebrity for an on field ceremony on Sunday, and utterly forgotten about by Monday morning. Even the reports’ cover draws some ire- an old Uncle Sam being sacked by the rushing defender, complete in early NFL era uniforms. You know, the time periods where we believed that players didn’t need helmets, or pads. Unfortunately for the Senators, they are forgetting that both Uncle Sam and the NFL have since evolved. Both entities are currently battling epidemics of PTSD, TBI, and budget scrutiny. They also both forgot that they signed off on these National Defense Authorization Acts. That’s a troubling fact if they’re willing to sign bills into law without reading them, only later to recant their support and demand oversight.
In conclusion- your favorite team’s appearance on this list does not automatically make their actions nefarious. Asking the GAO to conduct a thorough investigation of the services is almost as laughable and useless as the numerous stories that are published about senior service member’s abuse of travel funds, and other honor stripping actions. Nothing appears to changes after the barking dog finds a ‘smoking gun’. It’s like they asked Ted Wells to investigate the DOD. Though many of the named teams have issued responses, they aren’t likely to budge, and are more likely to feel bad for troops once the month of November passes. They depend on the lifeblood of DOD members for their personal connections with their franchises. Shining a bright light on the connections is a knee jerk reaction. The services, directed by the Army Secretary, conducted individual assessments of their programs and changes are sure to come to appease those in the Senate. What’s worse, when a National Guard recruiting unit reaches out to a local high school to support their programs and increase morale, they are more likely to be met with consternation and be turned away, now that their actions have become habit and under review.
Make no mistake, the dollars don’t flow freely in the military. Lines of accounting are built, and at the end of the day, someone signs for that money. There is a bread crumb trail that could have been found if only the Senators had looked closer. If these contracts are found to benefit certain officers, officials or teams repeatedly, I can see the anger. If teams only did these military salutes from 01 November to 30 November every year only, I could see how some of the anger is well directed. For teams such as the Seattle Seahawks, it doesn’t appear that they just shower the military with support because USAA is a paid sponsor of the Salute to Service games. The same could very likely be said for your favorite team. It’s unlikely that there’s a single antagonist in every organization, masterminding a multi thousand dollar embezzlement scheme. Now that the first shot has been fired, the NFL catches flack, but is shielded from it (pun intended). That means the deflected shots rest once again, on our nations veterans.
I’d be highly interested to attend a military salute game, though not in uniform. I’m sure I could arrive at a more logical reasoning stream of thought witnessing the positive affect it has. Because I guess with a reasonable amount of certainty that Troops aren’t being paid extra to be on the field. I’m also certain, again, that $6.8 million dollars in advertising over four years is a needle in a haystack with what the NFL makes on paid advertising. We’ve gotten the military discount on this end of the deal for sure. So let’s not overreact until units and the DOD gets to the bottom of this. Till next time…