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Former NFL quarterback and Fox Sports broadcaster Troy Aikman on Tuesday attempted to explain earlier comments he made that appeared to disparage military flyovers ahead of a Sunday game.
Aikman and his broadcast partner, Joe Buck, were caught on a hot mic ahead of the 1 p.m. Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Green Bay Packers game appearing to complain about a flight of four A-10 bombers who passed over a near-empty Raymond James Stadium.
“That’s a lot of jet fuel just to do a little flyover,” Aikman, who played all 12 of his seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, winning three Super Bowls, said.
— Defector (@DefectorMedia) October 19, 2020
“That’s your hard-earned money and your tax dollars at work!” Buck chimed in.
“That stuff ain’t happening with Kamala-Biden ticket. I’ll tell you that right now, partner,” Aikman responded.
The on-air antics did not sit well with fans, many of whom blasted the duo for what was perceived as naked political partisanship in an era where ‘wokeness’ over racial and social justice issues has already led millions of former fans to tune out this year.
Aikman took to Twitter Tuesday to clarify his comments.
“I love a flyover but It was odd to see one over a mostly empty stadium but I am an unwavering patriot that loves this country, has always respected our flag, supported the men and women in the armed forces as well as those in uniform who serve & protect and for anyone to suggest otherwise doesn’t know me, my beliefs or what I have stood for my entire life,” he wrote, adding an American flag.
I love a flyover but It was odd to see one over a mostly empty stadium but I am an unwavering patriot that loves this country, has always respected our flag, supported the men and women in the armed forces as well as those in uniform who serve & protect and for anyone to suggest
— Troy Aikman (@TroyAikman) October 20, 2020
otherwise doesn’t know me, my beliefs or what I have stood for my entire life.🇺🇸
— Troy Aikman (@TroyAikman) October 20, 2020
It should be noted that flyovers are rarely stand-alone events and are most often part of a pilot’s normal required training, which is necessary to hone skills and gain experience in case they’re needed to defend the country.
In March 2018, for instance, Stars and Stripes reported that the Air Force had lifted stadium flyover limits at NFL and MLB games after they had been curtailed due to budget constraints.
They are also used as recruiting tools.
“Flyovers are a way for the U.S. Air Force to showcase the capabilities of our aircraft while at the same time inspire a future generation,” Air Force spokeswoman Jennifer Bentley told the outlet. “We are increasing the number of events eligible for support to assist with recruiting efforts and in telling the Air Force story.”
She added that flyovers do not cost taxpayers any additional money because they are part of regular training missions. Bentley also said that flyovers, which take precision because they must be done at precisely the right moment (usually as the National Anthem is finishing) generally comprise 10 minutes of a 12-hour mission.
Adds retired Air Force pilot Paul W. Ambs, who has done many flyovers, “It was productive flight time and does relate to what would be a real-time mission.”
Politically, the comment about the Democratic presidential ticket of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris did not ring true; Aikman has supported Republicans financially in the past, including fellow Texan and President George W. Bush. He’s also supported the late John McCain and Mitt Romney when they ran for the presidency.
But Aikman’s attempted mea culpa was not without skepticism.
As a mere TV talker dont know if you’re aware anyone in the stadium is a minute fraction of all the people watching on TV who see & love flyovers if your crews bother to show them. Also mil pilots nd flite hrs to stay qualified to defend us.
— Andrew Malcolm (@AHMalcolm) October 21, 2020
Troy, you were caught on a hot mic with your pal, Joe bashing our military. The NFL and Military have had a long history and if you bother to research you would know, pilots have to have flight hours, they use these fly overs for those things. Training budget covers it.
— Kris L. (@ttiger2004) October 20, 2020
As a retired naval officer I reject your statement. You haven’t earned my respect and don’t care for yours.
— Mark Schneider (@subschneider) October 21, 2020
Different subject all together. The fly overs are not done in a vacuum. They are integrated into training missions so extra there’s no extra money spent. So, unless you consider pilot training frivolous I don’t see what the big deal is.
— John Hovsepian (@joheho) October 21, 2020
Dude we all heard the exchange on the hot mic, which was your true feelings on the matter.
— Hyrule Herb (@notsosmart3000) October 20, 2020
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