Dolphins Receive Tax Dollars for Military Tributes


When thinking of the United States Military and its association with the NFL and the Miami Dolphins, you typically think of the Salute to Service campaign to promote the military, or maybe you think of service members stretching out the prestigious American Flag. What would you think if the NFL and teams around the league were compensated for hosting these tributes with taxpayer money, dating all the way back to 2011?

According to federal documents released by the United States Department of Defense, reported 16 teams across the NFL received compensation for these ceremonies, including the Miami Dolphins.

Released earlier this month, the report notes the Dolphins received a payment of $20,000 on March 23 of 2012, as paid by the United States Air Force. The Dolphins played their Salute to Service game against the Tennessee Titans on Nov. 11, 2012.

Among the 16 teams, the Dolphins received the lowest amount of compensation for the ceremonies, with the New York Jets reportedly receiving around $377,500 over the span of four years. In total, the government paid over $5.4 million to 16 NFL teams dating back to 2011.

When looking at the impact of the integrity of the NFL and its military ceremonies, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake expanded on his frustrations earlier this month with Herb Jackson of

"“I think all of us have been at games and you get a warm spot in your heart when you see them honoring hometown heroes…. and then to learn that it was all part of a sponsorship deal, it just seems unseemly. So I wanted to point that out,” Flake said."

Flakes concerns are just a precursor to the frustrations being communicated around the nation. New York Senator Joe Pennachhio requested the NFL teams donate the compensation to charities in support of the military, as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie requested the Jets repay the New Jersey National Guard in accordance to their advertising efforts.

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Debuting in 2011, the NFL enrolled the “Salute to Service” campaign to “seek to elevate military appreciation across the league among players, teams, and fans through the NFL Salute to Service initiative,” as stated on’s Salute to Service Page.

“USAA annually works with several NFL teams during the NFL Salute to Service campaign to honor the men and women who have served and currently serve in the U.S. military by conducting base visits, hosting military at training camps, hosting thousands of military at Salute to Service games, conducting in-stadium card stunts, and enlisting NFL fans to demonstrate their appreciation by participating in the Salute to Service conversation.”

Although the NFL has broadcasted a positive message with the Salute to Service Campaign, recent discussion have questioned whether the campaign is in good faith, or if the campaign is all business.

As stated in the’s Armed Forces message, the NFL also provides services to the military services off of the field, including allocating 100% of the proceeds from NFL auction’s Salute to Service campaign to three non-profit organizations, including the Pat Tillman Foundation, the Wounded Warrior Project, and the United Service Organizations.

Meanwhile, U.S. Senator John McCain also displayed his discomfort with the compensation,

"“I think it’s really disgraceful that NFL teams whose profits at an all-time high had to be paid to honor our veterans,” McCain told reporters."

According to a projection held in 2011 by the Office of Defense Comptroller, the United States Military was projected to spend nearly $667 million on controlled advertising in 2012. This recent report concluded they compensated NFL teams with nearly $5.4 million over a four-year span.

Whether the Dolphins and other NFL teams around the league received the compensation in promotion of the armed services, or if they are looking for extra spending cash, the NFL’s service campaigns may be perceived as disconcerting in forthcoming circumstances.

A list of the 16 NFL teams to receive compensation since 2011 includes: Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers, and the St. Louis Rams.

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