Everyone knows the NFL is big business but they always seemed to have a place in their hearts for hardworking the hardworking men and women of our military.
Turns out, they don't. They are actually just paid promotions costing taxpayers millions of dollars. Call it the ultimate 'native ad', minus the required FTC disclosure.
New Jersey-based website, NJ.com, has revealed this weekend that the Department of Defense is paying millions of dollars to many NFL teams to honor America's heroes.
The touching moment at the beginning of each game when a particular service member is honored for what they've done for our country is actually a paid promotion.
To the New York Jets, all those pauses to honor soldiers of the New Jersey Army National Guard, it was worth a total of $377,000 from 2011 to 2014, according to federal contracts.
Overall, records released by the site show the Defense Department paid 14 NFL teams $5.4 million during 2011 to 2014, while $5.3 million was paid by the National Guard to 11 teams under similar contracts.
While not every promotions was paid for, the revelations still will come as a surprise to many Americans.
"Those of us go to sporting events and see them honoring the heroes," said Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake in an interview with NJ.com. "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. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth""
The NFL is the largest recruitment vehicle for the U.S. military and the revelations that all is not what it seems cheapens both those who genuinely support our troops and the NFL as a brand.
The NFL prides itself on having the utmost integrity (although let's face it - antitrust exemptions mean they have to run a squeaky clean operation) but having such advertising in a game does not seem consistent with integrity. It feel sneaky and underhanded. It also feels wrong to salute our troops because its good business.
They risk life and limb for our country and don't require payola to get the recognition they so richly deserve.