Evidently the Dept of Defense has paid the NFL more than $6MM over the last 4 years to honor military servicemen during games. I, like most people I suspect, believed these displays were organic in nature, not advertisements. That's not to say I believe these sports teams necessarily did the displays out of some sense of patriotism (more on that later), after all John Hancock did sponsor the Red Sox display each game, but the thought was at least they were done without the monetary involvement of the government. That only reinforces my belief about these displays, and it is at this point I feel my opinion and viewpoint probably diverges from the average American: I think they're ridiculous.
Fishermen and loggers, for example, have jobs more dangerous than being a soldier and leave their families for stretches of time, but I don't see tributes at sporting events to honor their employment choices. As far as fighting for our freedom, that hasn't been the case since WWII -- I'm sympathetic to the 9/11 argument but I don't believe our government has told us the whole story about who was involved/responsible so it's difficult to make a call on that, plus there's a significant argument to be made that 9/11 was blowback for our interventions in the Middle East.
I don't hate the troops or my country. I hate that our government is sending our young people to fight battles of politics in countries full of people who don't want us there and who pose no credible threat to us. Of course they could become a threat when our drones kill innocent civilians and the surviving family members take up arms against our country, but that's a story for another day.
In the end, the DOD loves the blind patriotism on display because it keeps people from asking hard questions and taking a hard look at a foreign policy that makes Rome's imperialism look like child's play.