Tuesday, November 3, 2015


  Taxpayer-financed salutes to U.S. troops at
sporting events would be banned under legislation setting U.S. defense
policy for the next 12 months.

The National Defense Authorization Act, as agreed to by congressional negotiators, would ban such activities as the "hometown heroes" promotion at New York Jets' home games featuring members of the New Jersey Army National Guard.

Overall, the Defense Department paid 14 NFL teams $5.4 million from 2011 to 2014 for such promotions, dubbed as "pay for patriotism."

The bill also seeks a study of all existing sports sponsorships and advertising deals.

EARLIER: Jets' salutes honor N.J. National Guard but cost taxpayers

Thanking our troops ought to be something more than a marketing
gimmick, so I'm glad that Congress has agreed to put an end to these
taxpayer-funded salutes," said U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who first called attention to the practice by citing the Jets.

The report accompanying the legislation also urges the National
Football League, other professional sports leagues and any organizations
that received taxpayer money for these salutes to consider donating "an
equivalent amount of funding" to a charity that supports active-duty
troops, veterans and their families.

"In the thick of football season, I applaud my colleagues for
recognizing and agreeing that demonstrating appreciation and standing in
patriotic solidarity with our military should not come with a
price-tag," said U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-2nd Dist.), a member of the
House Armed Services Committee. "It is my absolute belief that those
sports teams and organizations who accepted taxpayer dollars for
'paid-for patriotism' now donate an equal sum to charitable groups that
truly support our men and women in uniform."

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the provision "paints a completely
distorted picture of the relationship" between the U.S. Armed Forces and
professional football.

"The NFL has had a long and charitable relationship with our military
that we are excited to continue with this year's Salute to Service
campaign this fall," McCarthy said. "We agree that no one should be paid
to honor our troops, and the league and its 32 clubs are fully
committed to that. Military spending on recruiting efforts should not be
confused with community programs."

The Senate had approved such a ban in
its version of the defense policy bill, and the provision remained in
the final version, which now goes to the House and Senate for approval.