As it turns out, today’s Super Bowl match-up involves the NFL’s top two teams in terms of paid patriotism—those all-American displays paid for by the military without being advertised as such.
According to a 2015 report compiled and published by Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, the Falcons and the Patriots received more military funding for their patriotic displays than any other football teams between 2012 and 2015. Here are the portions of the report detailing the money that the two teams were paid for acts such as recognizing service members’ birthdays and allowing service members to hold the flag on the field, among others:
The Falcons received $879,000 from the military over this four-year period, while the Patriots received $700,000. The McCain-Flake report identified 18 NFL teams that were receiving military dollars for patriotic displays, with median funding of $351,250 per team—putting both teams well over that mark.
After the release of the report in November 2015, both the Pentagon and the NFL disavowed the practice, and last May, the NFL promised to reimburse taxpayers for $720,000 of these paid patriotism costs.