After being accused of “paid patriotism” for taking money from the budget of the armed forces for public acknowledgement during games, the NFL has decided to return the favor.
The league will return more than $700,000 of taxpayers’ money that was paid to teams for sponsored military tributes, including on-field flag ceremonies and tributes to veterans who returned home from service.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell promised that the league would pay the money back, and in a letter written to Senators Jeff Flake and John McCain on Wednesday, he promised the money would be sent back to the government.
“In all the years I’ve spent rooting out egregious federal spending, the NFL is the first organization to perform due diligence, take responsibility and return misspent funds to the taxpayers,” said Flake.
According to Flake and McCain last year, the U.S. Department of Defense spent $5.4 million in contracts with 14 NFL teams between 2011 and 2014. It was also said that the Atlanta Falcons had made more than $870,000 from the department over the course of those four years, followed by the New England Patriots ($700,000), Buffalo Bills ($650,000), Baltimore Ravens ($534,500), New Orleans Saints ($472,875), San Diego Chargers ($453,500), Seattle Seahawks ($453,500) and Indianapolis Colts ($420,000).