How the U.S. Military is Paying NFL Teams Millions to “Honor the Troops” at Sporting Events

Submitted by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

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When the Jets paused to honor soldiers of the New Jersey Army National Guard at home games during the past four years, it was more than a heartfelt salute to the military — it was also worth a good stack of taxpayer money, records show.

The Department of Defense and the Jersey Guard paid the Jets a total of $377,000 from 2011 to 2014 for the salutes and other advertising, according to federal contracts. Overall, the Defense Department has paid 14 NFL teams $5.4 million during that time, of which $5.3 million was paid by the National Guard to 11 teams under similar contracts.

The agreement includes the Hometown Hero segment, in which the Jets feature a soldier or two on the big screen, announce their names and ask the crowd to thank them for their service. The soldiers and three friends also get seats in the Coaches Club for the game.

– From the New Jersey Star Ledger article: Jets’ Salutes Honor N.J. National Guard but Cost Taxpayer 

Like everything else in America, faux patriotism is also for sale.

I’ve written previously about how uncomfortable the superficial “honor the troops” displays at sporting events makes me feel. In the post, “Stop Thanking Me for My Service” – Former U.S. Army Ranger Blasts American Foreign Policy and The Corporate State, I noted:

I have to admit, whenever I find myself in the midst of a large public gathering (which fortunately isn’t that often), and the token veteran or two is called out in front of the masses to “honor” I immediately begin to cringe as a result of a massive internal conflict. On the one hand, I recognize that the veteran(s) being honored is most likely a decent human being. Either poor or extraordinarily brainwashed, the man or woman paraded in front of the crowd is nothing more than a pawn. Even if their spouse hasn’t left them; even if whatever conflict they were involved in didn’t result in a permanent disability or post traumatic stress disorder, this person has been used and abused, and thirty seconds of cheering in between ravenous bites out of a footlong hotdog from a drunk and apathetic crowd isn’t going to change that. I don’t harbor negative sentiments toward the veteran.

On the other hand, the entire spectacle makes me sick. I refuse to participate in the superficial charade for many reasons, but the primary one is that I don’t want to play any part in the crowd’s insatiable imbecility. It’s the stupidity and ignorance of the masses that the corporate-state preys upon, and that’s precisely what’s on full display at these tired and phony imperialist celebrations.

Of course, it’s not just me that finds these scenes hard to stomach. Many troops have come forward and expressed the exact same sentiment. For example, as Rory Fanning, who served in Afghanistan with the 2nd Army Ranger Battalion noted:

These two ceremonies seemed to catch a particular mood (reflected in so many similar, if more up-to-date versions of the same). They might have benefited from a little “awareness raising” when it came to what the American military has actually been doing these last years, not to say decades, beyond our borders. They certainly summed up much of the frustration I was feeling with the Concert for Valor. Plenty of thank yous, for sure, but no history when it came to what the thanks were being offered for in, say, Iraq or Afghanistan, no statistics on taxpayer dollars spent or where they went, or on innocent lives lost and why.

Will the “Concert for Valor” mention the trillions of dollars rung up terrorizing Muslim countries for oil, the ratcheting up of the police and surveillance state in this country since 9/11, the hundreds of thousands of lives lost thanks to the wars of George W. Bush and Barack Obama? Is anyone going to dedicate a song to Chelsea Manning, or John Kiriakou, or Edward Snowden – two of them languishing in prison and one in exile — for their service to the American people? Will the Concert for Valor raise anyone’s awareness when it comes to the fact that, to this day, veterans lack proper medical attention, particularly for mental health issues, or that there is a veteran suicide every 80 minutes in this country? Let’s hope they find time in between drum solos, but myself, I’m not counting on it.

We use the term hero in part because it makes us feel good and in part because it shuts soldiers up (which, believe me, makes the rest of us feel better). Labeled as a hero, it’s also hard to think twice about putting your weapons down. Thank yous to heroes discourage dissent, which is one reason military bureaucrats feed off the term.

Very well said, and now we learn that these spectacles are often even more phony than originally suspected. NFL teams are being paid millions of dollars to host them. From the New Jersey Star Ledger:

TRENTON — When the Jets paused to honor soldiers of the New Jersey Army National Guard at home games during the past four years, it was more than a heartfelt salute to the military — it was also worth a good stack of taxpayer money, records show.

The Department of Defense and the Jersey Guard paid the Jets a total of $377,000 from 2011 to 2014 for the salutes and other advertising, according to federal contracts. Overall, the Defense Department has paid 14 NFL teams $5.4 million during that time, of which $5.3 million was paid by the National Guard to 11 teams under similar contracts.

The agreement includes the Hometown Hero segment, in which the Jets feature a soldier or two on the big screen, announce their names and ask the crowd to thank them for their service. The soldiers and three friends also get seats in the Coaches Club for the game.

Aside from the Hometown Heroes segment, the agreements also included advertising and marketing services, including a kickoff video message from the Guard, digital advertising on stadium screens, online advertising and meeting space for a meeting or events.

Flake said there was nothing wrong with the Guard using football games to recruit soldiers. The problem, he said, was spending taxpayer money on a program that, on its face, appeared to be a generous gesture by a football team.

The Daily News also covered this story, with a choice line from one of the most authoritarian members of Congress, Peter King. A man so completely insane, he makes neocons blush. He defended the spending of taxpayer money on superficial, faux patriotism:

Rep. Pete King (R-L.I.) also said “it’s money well spent.”

“People watching the NFL are generally inclined to be pro-military,” King told The News. “As far as the Jets, in addition to whatever money they’ve gotten from the (Department of Defense), I do know they are very actively engaged with veterans. The Jets do far more on balance than they get paid for.”

Football and fake patriotism. The new American Dream.

For related articles, see:

“Stop Thanking Me for My Service” – Former U.S. Army Ranger Blasts American Foreign Policy and The Corporate State

Another U.S. Veteran Passionately Pleads – “Please Don’t Thank Me for My Service”

A Marine’s Incredible Letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein

Meet Brandon Bryant: The Drone Operator Who Quit After Killing a Child

Propaganda 101 – How the Pentagon is Trying to Rewrite Vietnam War History

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