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FLASHBLACK: The Federal Government Had to Pay the NFL to be Patriotic

Millions of taxpayer dollars went to NFL teams in exchange for military and patriotic promotion.

Over the weekend, hundreds of NFL players protested during the national anthem in response to President Trump’s criticism of players protesting police brutality during the song. Many players either knelt or sat down for the anthem.

The episode could serve to remind Americans that the federal government once had to pay the NFL millions of dollars to participate in patriotic ceremonies.

A 2015 congressional report from Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) revealed that the Defense Department had paid $6.8 million to professional sports teams, including the NFL, for patriotic displays:

Among the paid events the report flags as questionable were on-field color guard presentations during the national anthem, enlistment and reenlistment ceremonies, the unfurling of a giant flag by members of the military, and ceremonial first pitches.

While many teams held such tributes for the military free of charge, 50 pro teams received money for them, according to the report.

Among the paid teams, the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots were the most taxpayer-funded teams.

As players and teams protest the national anthem, Americans should remember that the price of patriotism for the NFL reaches into the millions of dollars.