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NFL says teams, including Vikings, might have to refund money from military

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NFL teams, including the Minnesota Vikings, may have to pay back any money they received from the military for displays of patriotic pride if the payments are deemed "inappropriate" by the league.

According to the New York Times, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league will conduct an audit of all the contracts between teams and the military.

It follows the release of a report by Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake Tuesday, that showed the Pentagon paid sports teams at least $6.8 million since 2012 as part of its promotion and recruitment campaign, getting "patriotic displays" in return.

This included welcome-home ceremonies, on-field parades, enlistment ceremonies, and ceremonial first pitches or puck drops.

"We strongly oppose the use of recruitment funds for anything other than their proper purpose," Goodell wrote in a letter to the senators, according to the New York Times. "If we find that inappropriate payments were made, they will be refunded in full."

The figures released by the senators showed that the Minnesota Vikings received $375,000 in payments between 2012 and 2013, in exchange for two color guard ceremonies, the recognition of a Minnesota National Guard soldier at each home game, and additional exposure for the National Guard during a "military appreciation game."

In a statement to KSTP following the release of the report, the Vikings said they have sincerely supported and honored the state’s servicemen and women for over a decade.

It says that in addition to this however, the National Guard "chose to pursue traditional paid advertising elements, including digital signage, gate signage, video board and game program ads, as well as online advertising, for recruitment and retention purposes."

The biggest recipient of military payments in Minnesota was the Wild, which received $570,000 between 2012 and 2015, according to the congressional report.

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