Paid-for Patriotism in the NFL
By Philippe Gastonne - May 28, 2015

The Department of Defense and the National Guard are facing growing questions over why they spent millions of dollars on a promotional campaign to salute members of the military at professional football, baseball and basketball games around the country.

"So far everybody's just shocked to learn that this, that these feel-good moments are paid for by the U.S. taxpayer," Sen. Jeff Flake told on Tuesday…

Across several sports leagues, the segments typically are aired at home games, paying tribute to a member of the military on the Jumbotron. After reports first surfaced of taxpayer money going toward these salutes, a defense official initially claimed Monday that the military pays for recruitment advertising in sports stadiums, but not such "outreach."

Federal contracts show that the U.S. Department of Defense from 2011 to 2014 paid $5.4 million for sponsorship deals with 14 NFL teams. The size of the deals, which cover recruitment and other areas, differ, with more than $1 million going to the Atlanta Falcons and $115,000 going to the New York Jets. – Fox News, May 12, 2015

If patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels, the National Football League must be something even lower. Those feel-good moments in the pregame are simply nothing more than your tax dollars at work.

On the other hand, we all know the NFL is in business to make money. They would have sold these promotional opportunities to someone else had the Pentagon not bought them. The more interesting question is why the Pentagon thought it was a good idea.

The all-volunteer military worked well in the War on Terror's early years. Still in shock from 9/11, people wanted vengeance and believed their efforts could help achieve it. The Iraq debacle and other failures made that line stop working. Long, multiple overseas deployments to no apparent end have rendered "service" considerably less attractive.

The fact that today's 18-year olds were toddlers in 2001 means recruiters can't count on patriotic fervor to entice recruits. They can still count on patriotic parents, though.

We suspect those parents are the real target. The Pentagon's implicit message: "If you love your country, give us your children."

Show images of clean-shaven young people standing tall, and many parents picture their young ones in uniform. They think the military will make their sons and daughters into model citizens.

Few of these parents served in the military themselves, so they don't know the reality their children will face. They are easy marks for this emotional manipulation. Does it always work? No – but it works well enough.

This leaves us with a question. If the nation really faces serious threats that justify risking these young lives, why the deceptive marketing?

Randolph Bourne had the answer in 1918: "War is the health of the state." Almost a century later, the state is still very healthy.

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  • Guy Christopher

    Over the door of the 101st Military Police Company’s quonset hut headquarters, Biein Hoa, Republic South Vietnam, 1967, was a hand carved wooden plaque. It was the handiwork of our First Sergeant, who carried it with him at each post he served. He had cut the wood, and printed the message, and began packing it with his gear, some time after he made it alive out of Bastogne 22 years ealier. He said he wanted his men to always understand the time-tested realities of soldiering. It reads:

    “God and the soldier, all men adore
    In time of danger, but not before.
    When danger has passed, and
    All things are righted,
    God is forgotten,
    And the soldier is slighted.”

    No measure of bought-and-paid-for P-R bullschlamagle will ever convince any trooper otherwise, including that from the NFL. But then, we never thought to ask to be thanked for our service, a gesture which none of us from that generation ever really took seriously. We learned a lot in those days, including how to recognize liberal-speak political correctness when we see it. If you should ever want to thank a soldier, just say ‘welcome home.’

    • darrenlobo

      Liberal? The Daily Bell isn’t liberal. I guess you’re one of those conservatives who only knows the politically correct right – left divide & nothing else. Here’s a new word for you libertarian.

      Let’s talk about danger. How can a soldier fighting at the other end of the world be protecting his country from danger? He’s not, it’s called fighting for empire. This should end immediately. I’d like to be able to say “welcome home” to all the troops & intel agents. Not to thank them but to express my happiness at seeing the aggression overseas end.

      • Guy Christopher

        I see you don’t read and comprehend at a very high level, but no matter. Thanks. You made my top sergeant’s point very nicely.

        • darrenlobo

          Whatever, you could try to explain how fighting in Vietnam was protecting us from danger.

          • bouf

            You really did miss the point. Seems Bill missed the point as well. Let me thank Guy in another way: Thank you Mr Christopher for the best years of your life shat down a hole by psychopaths with no plan and not a shred of decency. How could you have known better at the time? You couldn’t have, and neither could my dad and his countless brothers, not a few of whom never made it back. We can’t give those years back to you (or any other vet) but we can try to use the remaining years we have left to explain that while the wool was yanked over our eyes in the past, our eyes are now open and we will not go silently into that night. Thank you for kicking and screaming at the Pricks. We’ve got a long way left to go to wake everybody up out of the nightmare, but with your perseverance, tenacity, and blunt language – who knows? We just might be able to shake loose those few remaining neurons in our fellow man. Keep posting my brother – if they won’t listen, we’ll just have to continue to slap the sh*t INTO them.

          • darrenlobo

            I still don’t get why you would thank someone for doing evil deeds even if they were duped into it. The rest of your comment is pretty good though.

          • bouf

            Service members know a lot more about each other and their families than any other kind of ‘co-worker’. It is a function of how much time we spend with each other, usually waiting for something. In a den of disaster such as exists in any combat zone, amongst all the emotion of hatred, confusion and fear, we have only each other to care for. So while you may think that only evil deeds occur, you ignore the sacrifices they make for each other. Read some citations that authorize the Medal of Honor and you may get a sense of what I mean. Especially for those men of Vietnam who were drafted, there was no choice of being thrown into the Mill of Ares and all the terrible things that exist there. You may think that rising above is merely a matter of survival – and yet I would point you back to reading those citations. Very few so named live to read about their own deeds.

            You can hate war. But you cannot hate the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who must prosecute it. Trust me when I tell you that they pay the rest of their lives enduring the memories of something each of them wishes they never had to witness. Good day to you.

          • darrenlobo

            Well, by your standard the Waffen SS must have been the cat’s meow. They called themselves a band of brothers & didn’t lock up their things because they were supposed to trust each other. The bottom line is that the troops’ solidarity & bravery doesn’t make their cause any better.

            What makes you think I hate anyone? I get how war victimizes the troops who fight it. I not only was in the army shortly after Vietnam & met many serving veterans of that war, I later had a close friend who was a Marine in Vietnam. What he went through at Con Thien really messed him up. He mentioned talking to the reporters who did this video about the place BTW, he, the Marine, thought that Vietnam was a big mistake too.

          • Blank Reg

            He already did, but in a way I guess you failed to comprehend. I normally don’t make comments against individuals, but rather try and stick to the issues and add to the discussion. In this case, however, I felt it necessary to come to Mr. Christopher’s defense, as he has contributed much to past discussions, and is in no way locked in the “politically correct left-right divide”. Perhaps metaphor is just over your head.

          • darrenlobo

            Perhaps you & Guy can stop being cryptic & spell it out. You call it metaphor, all I see is shucking & jiving. There is nothing to thank the troops returning from fighting aggressive wars overseas for.

        • Bill Ross

          During all places and times, I cannot find one instance of a “good war” or “might is right” prevailing, even if wielded by the “good guys” that has resulted in anything but “absolute power corrupting absolutely” and destroying the “winner” by hubris of power and false superiority. Arrogant “leaders” wielding arbitrary power destroy their civilizations by enslaving their citizens, collapsing peace and commerce AND / OR, by international predations provoking allies and foes alike to unite in common cause against this recurring historical plague of uppity “master predator”.

          Which is WHY we once had the “rule of law”, the defining foundation of civilization (peaceful, mutually agreed trade), protecting the ability of people to be productive, since the survival of everyone, criminals included depends upon not crossing THE LINE:

          Sorry Guy, but, “all wars are bankers wars” and, when all the patriotism / rhetoric / lies are stripped away, state military’s for a very long time have been mercenaries in service of dark forces at the expense of those who pay for this “standing army, eating of our sustenance”, making us beggars at out own tables.

          There is and can never be honor in any aggressive action, apart from defending yourself from REAL, on YOUR turf threats.

          Members of the military have been, for a very long time lied to, used and abused, then cast away for nefarious ends. If HONOR (and self-respect) is to be secured, it is by opposing this by joining oath-keepers or some other method.

          On current course, now that Posse Commitus has been rationalized away, it is only a matter of time before the military is called upon to to fire on fellow citizens (those they are sworn to protect).

          It is an open question whether military “training” (Pavolov conditioning against our common humanity) will hold and, people will be slaughtered from afar, as in a video game by remote control, or directly, face to face.

          The people holding the shreds of the reins of control are backed into a corner, desperate, a dangerous feral beast.

          Bottom line: I cannot see the honor of modern (past century+) military. Sucks to have been so manipulated, used and abused to achieve goals contrary to your and collective interests, BUT, that is the facts of the matter.

          • darrenlobo

            Not bad except for the part about Oathkeepers. The answer is to get out of the military ASAP. Don’t serve the tyrant.

          • Bill Ross

            you have no clue the extent of “insider” rage at the machine. The most effective saboteurs are insiders. And, I did state by “or other means”.

            The state is and will AGAIN experience “death by a thousand cuts”. Far be it for me to recommend how, where and from what position to “cut”. Be innovative, our major advantage against arbitrary power. They refuse to adapt (to peaceful coexistence) and have thus chosen their own fate. Those who live by the sword, die by the sword.

            Perverting common wisdom…is a mark of all great conspiracies.
            BARON VLADIMIR HARKONNEN, Dune (2000)

          • Bill Ross

            here’s a current example regarding “insiders” having the intel to “delete the elite”:


            keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer…

            “know your enemy” – Sun Tzu

          • darrenlobo

            Yes, know your enemy is absolutely right. As to how to oppose the govt I’m with Thoreau on that one:

            ‘A minority is powerless while it conforms to the majority; it is not even a minority then; but it is irresistible when it clogs by its whole weight. If the alternative is to keep all just men in prison, or give up war and slavery, the State will not hesitate which to choose. If a thousand men were not to pay their tax-bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood. This is, in fact, the definition of a peaceable revolution, if any such is possible. If the tax-gatherer, or any other public officer, asks me, as one has done, “But what shall I do?” my answer is, “If you really wish to do anything, resign your office.” When the subject has refused allegiance, and the officer has resigned his office, then the revolution is accomplished.’

            Stop this work from within Oathkeeper BS. Stop working for the govt & stop giving them your money. That’s how we’ll bring about change.

    • dave jr

      Welcome home Christopher. Better to say it late than never.

  • Bill Ross

    “Almost a century later, the state is still very healthy.”

    NO way. What a bad ending to this article, propaganda in itself.

    A century+ of attrition costs against civilization and the civilized have taken their toll. Only a minority of “successful” parasites can even pretend to be “healthy”. The walls of reality of “be fit” (“of use” to your trading partners) are rapidly closing in:

    the bigger they are, the harder they fall, because…

    As they say in the law, “falsus in unum falsus in omnibus” – false in one thing, false in all things. (shamelessly plagerized from Sheldon Richman’s NSA article today)

    and, a structure with no foundation (truth) cannot stand.

    • Fabian

      I think this sentence should be understood with some irony embedded.

  • Laird Minor

    This essay was about the Pentagon paying for promotional campaigns at sporting events, not about the propriety of engaging in endless foreign wars. The two are entirely separate topics, and this discussion thread has veered significantly off course toward the latter. Returning to the to principal point, the military spends a lot of money on recruiting, which is probably just as necessary as any company’s advertising campaigns. Their primary target market is young males, and one of the best ways to reach them is at sporting events.
    Advertising generally takes one of two forms: selling a specific product, and “image advertising” putting the company’s name in a positive light. Recruiting ads by the individual military services fall into the former category; promotional campaigns by the Pentagon into the latter. Both are valid. I have no problem at all with such campaigns. How we choose to use our military forces is another matter entirely.

    • Fabian

      You’ll notice however that GOOGL, AAPL, GS or BX never, ever must pay to recruit people…. Even WMT doesn’t have to do it. There must be something about it.

    • Impending Sky

      Yet the concept of a standing national army is incompatible with the founder’s vision for liberty.

      • Laird Minor

        Again, that’s not what this article was about. You’re certainly correct, but that’s a separate discussion.

        • Impending Sky

          To bring it back towards the topic, I doubt that we would be in this situation if the US had stuck to the founder’s intentions. In this view neither aspect of their promotional effort seems valid.

          A local militia would not require the same PR budget. Most likely it would have a strong word of mouth aspect. Nationwide marketing would not be relevant, unless it was handled under some association, like the agricultural groups. Even so, I doubt it would reach the proportions of what we see today.

          I recall reading that they served free beer after each drilling session. If the prospect of defending one’s community and a free BBQ does not bring volunteers out, would we even want them?

  • Bill Ross

    assuming states actually obeyed their own laws…

    how ’bout a “law” against using our tax dollars to manipulate / propagandize us? NO government “advertising”, including election AT ALL.

    then, MSM could actually tell us the truth without fear of offending the state teat upon which they suck?

  • tehila sunshine

    well, they better do more than advertise with the NFL and all others sports cuz the WHOLE WORLD is drilling right now.

  • Samarami

    Long prior to “discovering” anarchy I ceased attendance at spectator sports. Perhaps it’s the old veteran in me, but I always smelled a rat as the opening worship service for state was being presented to the hoi polloi. The fireworks at the end were an abomination. Sam

    • Bill Ross

      If you can’t stomach their bread, their circuses are even more unpalatable.

      I can “see” the merit of participating in sports, but cannot fathom how the vicarious spectacle of YOUR team winning can possibly contribute to YOUR SELF-esteem.

      • Samarami

        Ironically, Bill Ross, I am a sportsman. I started biking (pedaling kind — not motorcycles) in my 40’s — when there was a rumor that gasoline would soon climb to over .50 frn per gallon. I’ve now been “car-free” for nearly six years. Not to join the collectivistic “green team”, mind you. I bike to stay out of the nursing home and/or morgue.

        Actually, I bike for a number of reasons — one of which is an antidote to “frozen lung syndrom” thanks to US military over 60 years ago. I think all the guys in my outfit have now died — mostly of pneumonia. They took their medications like good little airmen (who flew alt 70m+ with inadequate cockpit pressure or heat) . I always bike up to Vets Hospital for the “study” I agreed to participate in, to the chagrin of the docs who insist I should be ingesting their antibiotics. 🙂

        Also it’s a sport I can do sans team members and women (emphasis on the latter).
        Off topic. Sorry.


        • Bill Ross

          Off topic?

          how ’bout living proof that if you don’t play their game, better chance of “winning”

      • Praetor

        It doesn’t, it’s alcohol, and that is what fuels the mayhem.

      • Impending Sky

        I agree that many people view the game vicariously, but it does not mean that some might not enjoy either side winning. Regional team-loyalty tends to attract those kinds of thinkers over individualists.

        As long as the game was well-played I don’t care who wins.

  • Joelg

    I always wondered why these sports teams were so patriotic in the extreme. Figured it was just the testosterone accompanying athletics making them so gung-ho. Knowing it is paid advertising is kind of deflating, like when I first learned that pro-wrestling was not spontaneous action.

    On the plus side: Cheaper than a draft for mobilizing sufficient numbers of warm bodies. And unlike all these local government subsidies to build sports stadiums, at least the Pentagon is getting something of good value for its sports outlays. Recruits do get some good benefits, like paid-for education if they come out in one piece. Deflating news, nonetheless.

  • Praetor

    I view all PSA, with the same distain as the pharmaceutical companies ads promoting their poison. To have these PSAs paid for by taxpayer dollars makes it even more tasteless and crass. The military is there and everyone knows it, no need to promote it. Is a military career honorable, Yes, and is a military needed, Yes. If you ask the people who go into the military why they join, I would bet they would tell you, they join because of the economic conditions and not the promotional ads. Everyone knows the militaries offer a great education and not just how to use a weapon or push a button that drops a missile. Everyone knows that on leaving the militaries you can have farther education in a college paid for by the militaries. Everyone knows the vast majority of service personnel are none combatants, electrician, mechanics, nurses, engineers, cooks you name it they do it. So, to promote the militaries are, well, again government wasting money. Short story! I volunteered, Air Force, I had just graduated from college and the economy sucked, spent a year looking for work, was told great education, but no experience, so joined the military, gained more education and experience in my chosen field, I got out, and had the GI bill, and more education, and it helped out greatly to farther my career along, I was patriotic, but more in line of being reasonable about the economy, to make thing even more funny, I had a long career in a major sports arena, LOL, now that’s funny, don’tyouknow.

    • Guy Christopher

      Our experience was similiar. I didn’t do well my first year of college. No jobs in ’66. Military was the only workable option. Three years and one war later, I was hunkered down back in college on the GI Bill. At 22, I was the old man in every classroom. Vowed to never leave the soft confines of the college life. In my fifth year, the university sent me a letter saying you have to leave–graduate or quit, ’cause your time is up. The day I was graduated, I was working three jobs. Never looked back. Taught college classes from time to time, but couldn’t see the point in a masters. Worked out OK, I think.

      • Praetor

        Yeah, I think there are a lot of people like us out there. Joining the military was one of necessity, and the more I think about it another manipulation, what better way to get young people to join up, make the economy as messed up as you can, give the young a chance at paid for college, a possible career, three hot’s and a cot (and money), and you get to through some led at people you’ve been told you don’t like. Could be the real reason for the depressions and recessions, to make the young mad enough to go fight with somebody. It “pisses me off”, that’s how they do it. I’ve lost a lot of relatives to the wars this country has fought, and for what, so the “a holes” in washington can stay in congress for 50 years and the billionaires can become trillionaires, its sick.

  • Impending Sky

    Sometimes it seems like they have lost sight of the most important aspects of sports. The actual game, athleticism, and teamwork are a mere sideshow next to the rest of the spectacle.

  • Praetor

    I have told my son since he was 12, ‘late 90’s’, never join the military, at lest not this one. They are up to no good!!! After 9/11 I was ready to fight also, but fighting this fight is a lie and a deception, and is WRONG.

  • Also interesting is to understand the masonic elements embedded in Baseball and wonder why this should be.

    I consider there is a prestige in covertly communicating between members a hidden movement’s power for being in control of such public events and perhaps a twisted satisfaction is found in having others perform rituals without their even being aware of what they are actually participating in – if the ritual is considered to have a ‘power’ perhaps its power is no less if the participants participate in ignorance. This is ‘truth hidden from view’ and another word for hidden from view is occulted. So what we are actually dealing with here is ‘occult’ ritual and manipulation.

    Another example is the London Olympic stadium where the floodlight gantries are very much like the pyramid with the all-seeing eye and sun combined at the top which is a masonic and ‘illuminati’ symbol, seen also on the US dollar bill.

    Is the US military just cynically trying to raise its profile and recruit or is their a darker motive, training people by mixing the excitement of a massive sports event with the emotions of the blood-lust in war or is it for placating the psychopathic political class by having a roaring crowd bless their filthy-ignorant murdering dogs, providing fulfilling ritual and amolishing guilt.

  • Bruce C.

    Well, I learn something new every day. What surprised me about this piece is that the Pentagon actually pays the NFL (and I suppose all the other American sports leagues) to display its rituals. I always thought the NFL accepted it as “free” entertainment as a way to accommodate pre-game television advertising. Mercifully, only the most “important” games televise it, but the poor fans who actually go to the games have to suffer through it every time.

    I’ve never liked “having” to stand up and recite The Pledge of Allegiance or listen to some “up and coming” new singer sing the Star Bangled Banner, (I can’t recall ever hearing a rendition that I liked,) or observing some “moment of silence” for – whatever – usually something obscure related to military troops. I do have to admit though, that I like the rush I feel when a squadron of fighter jets go roaring across the stadium. Unfortunately, I’ve rarely seen that. Most of the time it’s just the forced reminder of elementary school.