The Green Bay Packers and DOD Money

It was a week ago when Christopher Baxter broke the news that the the Department of Defense (read: your tax money) has been writing some pretty hefty checks to some of the NFL teams. Of course this grabbed everyone’s attention in the Packer’s little corner of the world.

As Baxter reported, the Green Bay Packers have received $600,000 since 2012.

And this is where some lose their minds.

Everyone out there gets that warm fuzzy when a team unfurls the 100 yard long American flag, honors a living vet and his/her family on the field and turns the entire stadium into an American flag with the help of colored bits of cardboard sitting at each seat complete with instructions. Yet for some, these acts seem a little less homespun and genuine now knowing that there was money given for such placements.

CheeseheadTV’s Aaron Nagler reached out to Packers’ PR director Aaron Popkey recently about how these funds are being sent, and Popkey replied with the following:

The Packers’ partnership with the Wisconsin National Guard is similar to our other partnerships in that it includes traditional marketing aspects designed to address its objectives, which are recruiting, retention and awareness. It featured advertising on TundraVision, stadium signage and Packers.com, as well as sponsorship of other programs and events such as the high school coach of the week, a job fair for veterans and a continuing medical education program. Our partnership arrangement does not simply focus on one specific event, but is comprised of many different features.

In other words, the Wisconsin National Guard via the Department of Defense has paid for product placement at Lambeau Field, on Packers.com, and other assorted Packers, Inc. stuff.

Same as the Sprinkler Guy here at Lambeau Field (La La La Lambeau!)

And the cute little Nicolet Waterboy/Watergirl of the Game.

And the Miller Lite Race to the Cooler, the giant Kraft Macaroni outside the stadium, and the Oneida Nation ad that shows every game. The list is pretty huge. Many corporations pay top dollar to advertise to the nearly 80,000 sitting in the stands at each home game.

I find it a little odd that people are shocked by it. Who do you think paid for those red, white and blue cards the crowd held up that formed a flag and spelled out “Thank You Veterans”?  Or the signage for the National Guard inside the stadium?

If you look at what Popkey said, yes, some of it went to advertising fees, but that money was turned around and used for community outreach. Not exactly a scandalous money grab if you ask me.

I’m sorry, but I can’t find a reason to be outraged. Like or not, the military in the United States is a business. A gazillion dollar (actually it’s a $495.6 Billion per year) business, complete with it’s own PR and marketing department, because new recruits don’t grow on trees in the Pentagon’s proverbial front yard. Then there’s the fact that people don’t like war, they are in the war business, and a little PR and goodwill can go a long way with this type of positive publicity.

And what better place to recruit than a captive audience where chances are there are plenty of fit, energetic young adults in their recruitment demographic? Gauging by how wild the crowd goes every time a fighter jet used to fly overhead or when that veteran’s face is splashed across the TundraVision, it appears the DOD knows exactly who that demographic is.

Yes, I get it. You, me and even my mom that doesn’t give two rips about football are paying for this. Everyone one of those 6 million dollars came from us tax payers. But even if you factor all of that money paid out to the NFL, it is still just a drop in the ocean of the DOD’s operating budget. Like a thousandth of a percent. $6 Million is pocket change compared to the many fighter jets that run in the hundreds of millions each. Yes, each.

Don’t worry, I fully understand that the federal government has cornered the market on ridiculous boondoggles. There’s the $30 Million spent to fund Pakistani mango farmers. Say that out loud and try not to cringe and/or laugh. Then there’s the $17.5 Million in tax exemptions to Nevada brothels and the $1.9 Million in “lifestyle lessons” for Senate staffers (read: minions.)

The US Military has a long history of partnering with professional sports either for recruitment of enlistees or recruitment of money to fund wars. During World War II, there was the War Bond Tour with soldiers such as Medal of Honor recipient John Basilone that criss-crossed the country to sell War Bonds to fund the ongoing conflicts in Europe and the Pacific. Soldier Field in Chicago was one of the stopping points. Perhaps it was the nationalist warm fuzzy of the era, but no one seemed to bat an eye at that sports and war machine partnership.

But at the end of the day, I can’t get that too bent out of shape or feel that ill-at-ease over the DOD’s recruitment and marketing budget that involves the NFL. It doesn’t diminish the genuine applause the crowd gives the vets standing on the field in the Salute to Services. It’s still fun to turn the stadium into a giant flag. No one sold their soul to do it.

It’s not the first time the military has meshed with sports, and it won’t be the last.

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Kelly Hodgson is a writer for PackersTalk.com and you can listen to her as a Co-Host of Out of the Pocket. You can also follow Kelly on Twitter at @ceallaigh_k

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  • Shavager

    The nation has a $18 TRILLION National DEBT and another $100+ TRILLION in UNFUNDED LIABILITIES–programs that MONEY will be paid OUT but has NOT the Revenues to be paid for–and YOU don’t have a problem with National Guard paying OUT $600 MILLION to Packers? The U.S. simply CAN’T continue running DEBT and DEFICITS, Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa are demanding a NEW world currency to replace the corrupt U.S. dollar because of so much DEBT that’s bringing down the dollar’s value and making it so unstable. The military is crying blues over reduction in spending, WHY waste money on “advertising” IF it’s so true they must reduce troop strength and infrastructure? This is more than just advertising at a football game–it’s about WISE spending of taxpayer dollars and INDIVIDUAL DONORS should’ve stepped up to help pay for this, not taxpayers who watch their dollars being wasted and stolen by politicians who don’t care.

  • Shavager

    And a P.S.-great for the Packers, it’s revenues for upgrades and future contract costs, I just disagree with the military and government spending money like this especially when they are draining the family incomes that support our team.

  • Shavager

    Another P.S.–those TRILLIONS irk me as incompetence and corruption on part of leaders who LIE to us regularly for their own personal gratification and POCKETS. I MEANT TO SAY $600 THOUSAND dollars, not millions–for all you Pack fans ready to weigh in–it’s still adds up along with other dollars spent on NFL teams to MILLIONS wasted by an organization CRYING ALLIGATOR TEARS over “sequester cuts” that forced a reduction in their spending revenues. A PENNY EARNED IS A PENNY SAVED, unless you’re a representative of the people–it’s dollars seized by the federal dictatorship and wasted to tune of BILLIONS per year.

  • Todd Book

    People are getting way to crazy about this. It’s common procedure people. Just like every military commercial on TV . . . Marines, Army, Navy, Air Force etc., they are paid for. It’s a recruitment tool. It doesn’t take away from honoring the people that serve our country. Put you attention on something that matters.

  • Todd Book

    It’s not the fault of the Packers. If they want to be a sponsor for recruitment, they call the Packers, not the other way around. They must feel it’s an effective tool to get young men and women to serve.

  • yap they have such a very long line outside the recruiting station trying to get in!! They want to sign up. wake up America. If you had a draft you would save the money. You would have recruiting SGT not driving around the country to speak with one interested person. Quit complaining get the draft back