By Ken Reed

During a recent NFL game telecast, announcers Joe Buck and Troy Aikman didn’t realize their mics were still hot.

What viewers heard were comments that made people recall the NFL’s paid patriotism scam.

Buck and Aikman commented on a military flyover during pregame activities for the Green Bay Packers – Tampa Bay Buccaneers game.

Aikman: That’s a lot of jet fuel just to do a little flyover.

Buck: That’s your hard-earned money and your tax dollars at work!

Aikman: That stuff ain’t happening with [a] Kamala-Biden ticket. I’ll tell you that right now, partner.

The off-the-cuff conversation — whether serious or sarcastic — reminded folks how the NFL has tried to wrap themselves in the flag for a long time.

It’s hypocritical. The real reason the NFL takes any patriotic stance at all is for love of money, not love of country.

From 2011 to 2014, the Department of Defense paid 14 NFL teams $5.4 million for promotional salutes to military personnel. In effect, it was simply a paid patriotism deal. The typical promotion went something like this: During timeouts, the Jumbotron camera would zoom in on a U.S. soldier. The soldier would stand, smile and wave to the crowd. Fans would stand and cheer, bursting with pride and patriotism, and happy that their favorite football team was honoring true American heroes. In reality, the whole thing was contrived; a revenue-at-all-cost marketing scam; just another income stream for NFL owners, not a feel-good gesture at all.

Using taxpayer money to create phony patriotic salutes is wrong on many counts, but mostly it’s just plain sad.

And as Buck’s quote alludes to, it’s certainly an unethical way to spend our tax dollars.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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