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14 NFL teams took tax dollars for patriotic pregame displays

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 7: A giant American flag is unveiled on the field before the game between the Oakland Raiders and the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on September 7, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Ed Mulholland/Getty Images)

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The Jets are just as patriotic as anybody else, I’m sure.

But it’s easier to wave the red, white and blue when it comes with a healthy dose of green.

According to Christopher Baxter and Jonathan Salant of, the New Jersey Army National Guard and the Department of Defense paid the Jets a total of $377,000 from 2011 to 2014 for the salutes and other advertising, citing federal contracts.

While the heartfelt salutes to military members seems like a win-win (good for the league’s image, high-visibility advertising for the military), the reality that it’s as much of an ad as the ones for beer and trucks does make it a bit distasteful, not to mention expensive.

According to their documents, the Defense Department has paid 14 NFL teams $5.4 million over the past four seasons for the patriotic displays.

“Those of us go to sporting events and see them honoring the heroes,” U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said. “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. . . .

“They realize the public believes they’re doing it as a public service or a sense of patriotism,” Flake said. “It leaves a bad taste in your mouth.”

The deals include segments saluting “Hometown Heroes,” and other advertising and marketing.

The Jets weren’t the only team accepting tax dollars in exchange for access to football, as the Falcons, Ravens, Bills, Bengals, Browns, Cowboys, Packers, Colts, Chiefs, Dolphins, Vikings, Steelers and Rams have also accepted the money.

Your money, that is.