NFL returning $723K in taxpayer money for military tributes

The National Football League is refunding more than $700,000 paid by the Defense Department to NFL clubs to honor military service members at league games and events.

Republican Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake announced the news today. They had complained that the Pentagon spent more than $10 million in marketing and advertising contracts with pro sports teams between 2012 and 2015 for what the senators dubbed "paid patriotism."

''In all the years I've spent trying to root out egregious federal spending, the NFL is the first organization to perform due diligence, take responsibility and return funds to the taxpayers,'' Flake said. ''The NFL's response to this investigation sets a new standard and only strengthens its reputation as a supporter of military service members and veterans.''

McCain also applauded the NFL's actions but said other sports leagues - including Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, the National Basketball Association and Major League Soccer - should also conduct audits and return money to taxpayers or donate it to groups supporting service members and veterans.