NFL's Falcons won't take military ad money

NFL's Falcons won't take military ad money
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The Atlanta Falcons will no longer accept money from any military branch for advertising, the team's owner said Friday.

“We’ll do whatever we can to help in recruiting for all branches of the Armed Services,” Arthur Blank told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “But we’re not going to bill anybody for anything.”

The decision is in response to a November report from Arizona Republican Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainSenate's defense authorization would set cyber doctrine Senate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions MORE and Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeCorker pressed as reelection challenges mount -trillion debt puts US fiscal house on very shaky ground Senate votes down Paul's bid to revoke war authorizations MORE that slammed what they termed as “paid patriotism,” when the Defense Department pays for patriotic showings at sporting events such as troop homecomings or singing the national anthem.

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The 2016 National Defense Authorization Act already outlawed the practice.

But Blank said he would go further and not accept money for advertising or marketing still allowed under the law.

“We don’t want any confusion about it,” he told the Journal-Constitution. “We’re not going to accept any more monies under any contracts.”

The Falcons will instead offer unpaid advertising and other community outreach, he said.

The Falcons received the most money of any team named in McCain and Flake’s report. Marketing contracts with the Georgia Army National Guard for 2012 through 2015 were worth $879,000, according to the report.

The contracts included a performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" by a member of the National Guard, an opportunity for 80 National Guard members to hold a large American flag on the field and recognition of the Army National Guard’s birthday, among other events.

Blank previously defended the contracts.

“Our marketing and sponsorship agreement with the National Guard is designed to fulfill their objectives of increasing awareness and aiding in recruiting efforts, which has become more important in an all-volunteer service environment,” he said in a May letter included with the senators’ report. “This is no different than any other sponsorship agreement in that it is structured to fit a business need.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has separately promised to conduct an audit and reimburse any inappropriate payments found.