Photographer: Ralph Freso/Getty Images

Paying NFL Teams to Salute the Troops: Is It Legal?

The suddenly blurred line between military tributes and advertising

Like many Republican lawmakers, Jeff Flake, the junior U.S. senator from Arizona, makes a hobby of picking through government spending data in search of waste. Every week his office puts out a "#PorkChops" press release detailing his latest find. Last month they came across a particularly juicy morsel in the "statement of work" for a 2012 marketing contract between the New York Jets and the New Jersey Army National Guard. The document lists what the Jets will deliver in return for about $100,000 and includes—along with online banner ads and spots on the stadium video board—a "Hometown Hero" tribute to a pair of soldiers during each home game: "Their picture will be displayed on the video board, their name will be announced over the loudspeaker, and they will be allowed to watch the game, along with 3 friends or family members." 

To continue reading this article you must be a Bloomberg Professional Service Subscriber.