The Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns are among 16 NFL teams that have received taxpayer dollars from the Department of Defense in exchange for advertising and patriotic displays at games, according to an NJ.com article.
The Department of Defense and the Army National Guard paid the Bengals $138,960 from 2011-13 and gave the Browns $22,500 from 2011-12.
The National Guard, which according to Senator John McCain’s “America’s Most Wasted” report faced a $101 million shortfall in the account to pay guardsmen at the end of 2014, defended the payments as an important recruiting tool and a standard advertising agreement similar to the ones NFL teams have with other corporations.
"Promoting and increasing the public's understanding and appreciation of military service in the New Jersey Army National Guard increases the propensity for service in our ranks and garners public support for our Hometown Team," Guard spokesman Patrick Daugherty said.
The McCain report said the National Guard had a $32.2 million contract to sponsor NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and a $12.7 million deal to sponsor the Indy Racing League’s Graham Rahal in 2014 before ending the agreements in the face of ““significantly constrained resources and the likelihood of further reductions.”
The Bengals issued the following statement addressing their relationship with the military.
"The Bengals value the club's longtime association with the armed services. The club has had marketing and advertising agreements with various branches, providing value to those that participate. Separately, we also believe our gameday platforms are ideal for saluting the contributions of service members, providing an experience that is valued and enjoyed by our fans. We plan to continue this tradition at Paul Brown Stadium. And over the past four years, the Bengals have donated to the armed services more than $700,000 in tickets to our games and other events held at PBS."
The other teams who accepted money from the National Guard were the New Orleans Saints ($2,067,875), Atlanta Falcons ($1,049,500), Baltimore Ravens ($884,500), Buffalo Bills ($679,000), Indianapolis Colts ($620,000), Minnesota Vikings ($605,000), Green Bay Packers ($600,000), New York Jets ($377,500), Kansas City Chiefs ($250,000), San Francisco 49ers ($125,000), Dallas Cowboys ($62,500), St. Louis Rams ($60,000), Pittsburgh Steelers ($36,000) and Miami Dolphins ($20,000).