Trust me, I am just as happy as everyone else that the NFL got strong-armed into giving up the money they got paid to honor the United States military before and during televised events. I just don't want there to be any confusion, because the only reason one of the most money hungry organizations in the country is giving up hundreds of thousands of dollars that are rightfully theirs is because they are trying to save face.
The National Football League is a business. The United States military is a brand. It is a pretty common occurrence for brands to pay businesses to promote them, and this is no different - regardless of the cause being exponentially more praiseworthy. Just because the Army, Navy, and Air Force keep this country safe doesn't mean they aren't funded financially, and - as wrong as it seems- even the most admirable of financially funded institutions have to pay for advertising. That's all this was. The only reason the NFL gave the money back to taxpayers is to shut up said taxpayers that were so vocally disapproving of a sports league profiting off the military. It was nothing more than a publicity stunt to combat the criticism they faced throughout the season. Just another business decision in a never-ending cycle of business decisions.
There is a reason the NFL is worth billions upon billions of dollars and it's because they make important choices with their wallet and not their heart. 100 yard long American flags, the man power it takes to hold them up, and the air time it takes to broadcast them to millions all come with a price tag, and the rich don't typically get richer by flipping bills that don't primarily benefit them. I love hating on the NFL's higher ups as much as the next guy, but if you have a problem with them collecting money from the military in exchange for premier marketing opportunities then your real problem resides with capitalism.