Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) criticized NFL owners for taking money from the Department of Defense to sponsor patriotic displays during games.

“I think it’s really disgraceful that NFL teams whose profits are at an all-time high had to be paid to honor our veterans,” he said Tuesday (via ESPN)..

The DOD paid $5.4 million for sponsorship deals with 14 NFL teams, many of which included in-game mentions, from 2011-14. The Miami Dolphins, for instance, received $20,000 and the Atlanta Falcons more than $1 million.

“It’s so crass on the part of these football team owners who make enormous profit for them to do that — I think it’s very revealing as to what kind of people they are,” McCain said (via CNN).

The National Guard said the expenditure helped it reach critical age groups.

“This isn’t, as some might think, payment for unfurling a flag or to welcome a soldier home on the field,” National Guard spokesman Rick Breitenfeldt told ESPN. “This is more about spending for marketing and advertising, for signage, for website takeovers.”

McCain and his fellow Arizona Republican in the Senate, Jeff Flake, uncovered details of expenditures that cover “Hometown Hero” salutes and tickets for veterans and their families. “You go to a game and you see a team honoring ‘Hometown Heroes,’ and you think it’s some sort of public service announcement, that the team is doing it out of the goodness of their heart,” Flake told ESPN on Monday. “Then you find out it’s paid for? That seems a little unseemly.”