Report: Jets among NFL teams paid to salute soldiers during home games BY Andy Clayton , Eli Rosenberg , Bill Hutchinson NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Published: Sunday, May 10, 2015, 11:28 AM Updated: Monday, May 11, 2015, 1:24 AM Rich Schultz/Getty Images A recent report shows that the NFL is getting paid by National Guard to honor soldiers at games. It was more about green than a Gang Green salute to the troops. In a shocking revelation, the Jets have been exposed for providing patriotism for pay. The Department of Defense and the New Jersey National Guard doled out $377,000 to the team over the last four seasons to honor military members at MetLife Stadium games, according to federal contracts obtained by The Star-Ledger of Newark. The Jets and 13 other NFL teams took $5.4 million in taxpayer money between 2011 and 2014 to give shoutouts to America’s war heroes, while making it appear they were doing it out of true appreciation. In the agreement with the military, Gang Green officials used some of the money to recognize service members as “Hometown Heroes” during home games, and to host them at events like the team’s “Kickoff Lunch.” The team was also paid to allow military members to work alongside players and personnel at the team’s Hometown Huddle charity event. Al Pereira/WireImage Members of the Army and Air Force are sworn in during Military Appreciation Day before New Orleans Saints vs. New York Jets game at MetLife Stadium Nov. 3, 2013. “It strikes me as unseemly that these teams realize the public believes they’re honoring these service members as a public service,” Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said in a statement Sunday to the Daily News. “So to find out they’re doing it because they’re being compensated leaves a bad taste in your mouth,” said Flake, who slammed the practice as a waste of taxpayer money. The bulk of the bucks given to the NFL teams, $5.3 million, came from the National Guard. The Giants, Mets and Yankees did not receive military money, but have all staged events to honor the armed forces. The Jets went on defense Sunday, telling The News the team has been very active in supporting the troops out of its own pocket. Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call,Inc. “It strikes me as unseemly that these teams realize the public believes they’re honoring these service members as a public service,” Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said. “The New York Jets have consistently supported all five branches of the U.S. armed forces – independent of and unrelated to any sponsorship relationship — by participating in many programs which honor their service and sacrifice to our country,” the Jets told The News in a statement. The Jets noted they recently donated $1 million to Building for America’s Bravest, an organization that constructs smart homes for catastrophically injured service members. Patrick Daugherty, a spokesman for the New Jersey National Guard, justified the deal with the Jets as being valuable for advertising and recruiting. “Promoting and increasing the public’s understanding and appreciation of military in the New Jersey Army National Guard increases the propensity for service in our ranks and garners public support for our Hometown Team,” Daugherty said in a statement. Rep. Pete King (R-L.I.) also said “it’s money well spent.” “People watching the NFL are generally inclined to be pro-military,” King told The News. “As far as the Jets, in addition to whatever money they’ve gotten from the (Department of Defense), I do know they are very actively engaged with veterans. The Jets do far more on balance than they get paid for.