Friday, April 23, 2004

On a serious note 

Earlier today, as I'm sure most of you have heard, Pat Tillman was killed in action in Afghanistan. It's all over the news because back in 2001, Tillman was quite the up and coming player in the NFL for the Arizona Cardinals. He was in the midst of negotiating a 3.6 million dollar contract when he decided to quit the NFL in the prime of his career and join the Army Rangers. His pay in the Army? 18,000 dollars a year. He chose this path because he felt he could do more for his country in the Army than he could on the football field. Unfortunately today he made the ultimate sacrifice for his country.
I remember being very impressed with Pat Tillamn when word of this story broke back in early 2002. I never thought he was stupid and naive to turn down 3.6 million dollars. I was impressed because I knew he was a better man than me. I actually remember feeling kind of ashamed of myself, because I damn well knew I would have taken the money if I had been blessed with his physical and mental skills (he graduated with a 3.82 GPA from Arizona State University). What impressed me the most, was the fact he refused to give any interviews, never allowed pictures to be taken, or allowed any special media attention to be showered on himself for his act. He just wanted to be one of the guys in Basic Training. As anonymous as he could be. (Unlike Tiger Woods with his one week special forces sideshow last week. How you feel now Tiger?)
I was listening to one national radio talk show host today who said "I bet Pat Tillman is pissed about all the special attention he's getting right now." Perhaps they are right about that. However I think maybe, just maybe, with Tillman's death we all will start thinking about the 700+ American, Spanish, Polish, Italian and other soldiers of every sex and race that have lost their lives over the last three years. Maybe we all needed a "famous" face to truly realize that there hundreds of thousands of people who have voluntarily put their lives on the line. They do so to try to keep terrorism out of America and Europe, so we can live a little safer. Will their efforts succeed 100%? Of course not, but I think it's safe to say we are all safer now that we've taken the fight to them, than if we had left them alone in Afghanistan to plot their next 9/11.
So hopefully, Pat Tillman's death will be a wake-up call to the majority of Americans who all too often watch the war footage with a detached eye. Maybe now, with the death of a superstar, they will realize what is truly at stake.
Here is a link to a great column in Sports Illustrated about the type of man Pat Tillman was. Click here


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