The Pentagon pays some professional football teams including the New England Patriots hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to honor American service men and women before kick off…because nothing says “patriotism” quite like getting paid to acknowledge soldiers returning from warzones.
But that agreement between the NFL and the Pentagon may soon be coming to an end.
This week, Senators John McCain(R-AZ) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) filed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act on Thursday that would not only scrap the program, but also require teams to give the money they received from the Pentagon to charitable organizations that support veterans and their families.
“I and so many other Americans were shocked and disappointed to learn that several NFL teams weren't sponsoring these activities out of the goodness of their own hearts but were doing so to make an extra buck,” McCain said when introducing the amendment.
According to McCain, the DOD has paid NFL organizations roughly $7 million over the past three years. The New England Patriots, for example, received about $675,000 to hold pre-game ceremonies for soldiers and veterans. The Denver Broncos were paid about $460,000.
The Senators slammed the payments saying it’s a waste of tax dollars that could be used on something more valuable like counseling for soldiers returning home.
Under the amendment, the Pentagon would be required to provide a full list of all professional sports teams, not just football, that have received similar payments. A similar bill approved by the House last month requires the money be allocated to research for post-traumatic stress disorder, the National Journal reported.
The amendment comes as the Senate considers the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act approved by the House last month that would allocate $612 billion in government funding for the Pentagon.
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