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Troy Aikman, Joe Buck question value of military flyovers in comments caught on hot mic

To honor front line health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and Navy Blue Angels fly past the Air National Guard Base in New Castle, Del., on April 28,2020.

MITCH TOPAL/DELAWARE AIR NATIONAL GUARD

By CINDY BOREN | The Washington Post | Published: October 20, 2020

Flyovers by military jets have become a staple of sporting events, the roar of the planes nearly as much a part of pregame ceremonies as the playing of the national anthem. During an NFL game on Sunday, two Fox Sports commentators questioned their usefulness.

Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, the No. 1 team on Fox’s NFL broadcasts, were caught in a hot-mic moment as four jets soared over Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium, which was mostly empty because of crowd restrictions put into place because of the coronavirus pandemic, before the Buccaneers’ game against the Green Bay Packers in Tampa.

“That’s a lot of jet fuel just to do a little flyover,” mused Aikman, the Hall of Fame quarterback.

Buck replied, “That’s your hard-earned money and your tax dollars at work.”

“That stuff ain’t happenin’ with [a] Kamala-Biden ticket,” Aikman responded, “I’ll tell you that right now, partner.”

The comments were caught on a raw feed that wasn’t part of the main Fox broadcast.

Although it is not clear what Sunday’s flyover cost, The Washington Post reported in April that flying a squadron of fighter jets in such a manner costs at least $60,000 per hour. The practice came under criticism in the spring when the Pentagon conducted several flyovers by the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds, the demonstration squadrons for the Navy and the Air Force, “to thank first responders, essential personnel, and military service members as we collectively battle the spread of covid-19.”

Those flyovers came as medical personnel dealt with a shortage of personal protective equipment as they treated patients. A senior military official told The Post that the cost of those flights came from money already allocated in the Pentagon budget.

Military displays at sports events became more prominent after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. No sports league has more actively cultivated an association with patriotism and the military than the NFL.