people probably have never heard of the guy. You hear
his name, and a bell rings... maybe. "Wasn't he
famous or something?" you wonder. He is famous,
but for quite a bit more than just playing a game. You'd
have to be a pretty avid football fan to know his name,
or at least an Arizona Cardinal football fan.
Tillman is 25-years-old. He was an All-Pro safety for
the Arizona Cardinals football club, and a graduate
of Arizona State University. He was recently married.
He is a hero.
this day of headlines screaming about pro athletes being charged
with (and sometimes convicted of) murder, rape, drug possession,
having illegal weapons, assault, spousal abuse, battery and
just plain bad manners, it's deemed not newsworthy when one
of these athletes gives up, so selflessly, their time and
money. It's even more sad when one gives up a career, totaling
millions of dollars in income, to serve his country; and it
mostly goes ignored.
too used to hearing ESPN and most of the mainstream networks
talk about the latest obscene bizarre statement that the paragon
of virtue, Mike Tyson, has grunted. A man who from 1995 to
1997, spent almost twice the amount of money on his birds
and cats ($411,777.00) as he did on his own children ($228,821.00
- child support); his biting and kicking and cursing and just
plain obnoxious crudeness makes for good copy. Just go away,
Mike. Lennox Lewis beat you. The rest of us are just tired
what about the controversy of steroid usage in baseball? Yeah,
I know, it's been talked about to death, but when former players
are coming forward telling the press of their own experience
with abusing steroids, what can you expect? Ken Caminiti,
retired MLB player stated, "At first I felt like a cheater.
But I looked around, and everybody was doing it." Everyone,
huh? Nice justification, Ken. Nothing to admire here, let's
move on. The last bit of class, (except for maybe Sammy Sosa)
Cal Ripken, Jr. and Mark McGwire, have retired. America's
Pastime is fading into the past...
then there's the NBA. Not much class left there either, save
The Admiral, David Robinson - the San Antonio Spurs veteran
and his teammate, Tim Duncan. That's hard to say coming from
a Jazz fan. Allen Iverson may have cleaned up his act to the
media's purview, but how many copies of that trashy rap song
are still out there Allen? How many more of these big men
playing kid's games are going to whine about their lives,
the money they make (or to hear them tell it, the lack thereof),
which lousy team they've been traded to, and how a 50 thousand
square foot garage just ins't large enough for their Cadillac
Escalante's and Lincoln Navigator's. Shaq-Attack, indeed.
Oh, and don't get me started on Shaq...
course, not all professional athletes are whiny, cry-baby,
preening narcissistic snakes. Pat Tillman definitely isn't.
He turned down a three-year contract proposal from Arizona
worth $3.6 million for a new job that might pay $18 grand
a year if he's lucky. Tillman left his glory, money and fame
to join the United States Army, in hopes of becoming an Army
Ranger. He wants to serve his country in its time of dire
need. Instead of cracking heads on the gridiron, he wants
to take Osama's team out.
athletes gave up promising careers in the National Football
League to serve this country in a time of armed conflict.
Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach and former Pittsburgh
Steelers running back Rocky Bleier both did tours of duty
during Vietnam. Let's not forget Bob Kalsu - who gave the
supreme sacrifice. Kalsu was the only active NFL player to
lose his life in that horrid war. First Lieutenant Kalsu died
July 21, 1970, on an Ashau Valley mountaintop known as Firebase
Ripcord. His 11th artillery unit of the 101st Airborne Division
had been pinned down for weeks by relentless enemy fire. His
was the ultimate sacrifice.
more athletes served their country when she needed them. Baseball's
Ted Williams served in both World War Two and Korea. Joe DiMaggio
enlisted in the Army. Stan Musial served in World War Two,
as well. Notice anything missing here? The younger generation
of professional athletes. Athletes from the same generation
as Tillman. Go figure.
who have chosen to write about Tillman's decision (mostly
cynical sportswriters) have questioned Tillman's "motivation."
He's not talked much to the press on his choice to leave the
NFL and become an Army soldier, so rumors, allegations and
sheer snobbery by those aforementioned pundits runs amok.
I guess it's difficult for some folks to grasp that a man
could leave a professional sports team contract on the table
to settle for three hots and a cot, courtesy of Uncle Sam's
Army. Ever heard of patriotism, guys?
that's why Pat Tillman is a hero. Not because he's left the
glory of the NFL behind, not for his Pro-Bowl seasons in Arizona
- but because loyalty to his country and the safety of its
citizens comes first with Tillman. A Cardinal teammate stated
of Tillman; "He is a man who loves this country."
your country loves you, Pat. Thank you.