WASHINGTON (AP) The New England Patriots got $675,000 from the Army National Guard for honoring American troops, including a ''True Patriot'' program during a halftime show at home games.
''Hardly a deprived franchise,'' scoffed Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., on Thursday as he and two other lawmakers won Senate approval for a prohibition on lucrative Pentagon contracts with NFL teams for the various ceremonies honoring the military.
The Super Bowl champion Patriots weren't the only NFL team to receive taxpayer dollars the past three years for color-guard performances, flag rollouts and other events recognizing members of the military. The Atlanta Falcons got $579,500; the Denver Broncos received $460,000.
In fact, the NFL received $7 million over three years from contracts with the Guard, according to McCain.
The senator said he was ''shocked and disappointed to learn that several NFL teams weren't sponsoring these activities out of the goodness of their own hearts but were doing so to make an extra buck.''
McCain, along with Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., argued wealthy teams shouldn't be receiving taxpayer dollars when the military faces cuts in spending.
By voice vote, the Senate added the measure, barring the ''Department of Defense from entering into contracts to facilitate payments for honoring members of the Armed Forces at sporting events,'' to a sweeping defense policy bill.
The Senate is expected to complete work on the policy bill next week.