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Pat Tillman
April 23, 2004 9:12 AM   Subscribe

NFL player, who walked away from a $3.6 million contract in the aftermath of 9/11 to join his brother in the Special Forces, dies in Afganistan. Unselfishness personified.
posted by treywhit (46 comments total)

 
Wow. I bet he would have been an interesting guy to know. I wish I had known about him when he was still around - very sad news.
posted by GriffX at 9:17 AM on April 23, 2004


Wow, that's about the most honorable thing I've seen someone involved in sports do. In the era of "show me the money" this guy turns down the quick buck to do what he can to help and eventually pays the ultimate price. A sad and amazing story of selflessness.
posted by mathowie at 9:21 AM on April 23, 2004


I remember admiring his courage and conviction, even as I guessed he and I most likely had very different politics. Obviously we don't know the details of what happened, but I fervently hope he was able to make a difference, and his death (along with many others') won't be in vain, as we seem to have put the Afghanis on the back burner of late.
posted by jalexei at 9:22 AM on April 23, 2004


People toss around the word 'hero' a lot and it's pretty manipulative. But for someone who turned down $3.6 million for $18,000 a year to do something he thought right and it seems pretty fitting.

RIP.
posted by xmutex at 9:22 AM on April 23, 2004


Godspeed, Tillman, and thanks.
posted by jonmc at 9:23 AM on April 23, 2004


Truly Honourable. Wow. RIP.

Call me pessimistic, but I just *pray* his family doesn't sell his story to Miramax and cheapen it though . . .
posted by lazywhinerkid at 9:33 AM on April 23, 2004


Are you kidding? I'm sure the rights have already changed hands. "We just want to show the world what a great man he was..." etc.

Besides, he may qualify as a celebrity, in which case having the rights might not be necessary.
posted by bingo at 9:41 AM on April 23, 2004


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posted by Lynsey at 9:41 AM on April 23, 2004


A paragon of sacrifice and selflessness. May God bless.
posted by dr_dank at 9:47 AM on April 23, 2004


I found out about this when my office mate started crying. She went to high school with Tillman, and remembered him well. She described him as a jock who defied that stereotype: he was intelligent and genuinely friendly toward everyone.
posted by aladfar at 10:08 AM on April 23, 2004


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posted by fletchmuy at 10:10 AM on April 23, 2004


Pretty sad and I'm sure there's alot more to the story.

Looks like we just lost one of the truly good guys (not to imply that the rest of the soldiers fighting aren't good guys by any stretch).
posted by fenriq at 10:11 AM on April 23, 2004


NFL.com story on Pat Tillman's unconventional life.

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posted by Vidiot at 10:14 AM on April 23, 2004


One of the most impressive things to me was that neither Pat Tillman or his brother would do media interviews. They didn't want to be glorified above the other members of their unit. Almost all of the news we got stateside on them was from the Tillman brothers' dad.

SportsFilter thread on this topic.
posted by jeffmshaw at 10:15 AM on April 23, 2004


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posted by cyrusdogstar at 10:22 AM on April 23, 2004


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posted by mdeatherage at 10:34 AM on April 23, 2004


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posted by zpousman at 10:38 AM on April 23, 2004


The local news unit went to his high school to talk to his mates, many of whom now work there as staffers. None would speak until the family had time to sort out its emotions and make whatever statement they wished.
posted by Lynsey at 10:38 AM on April 23, 2004


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posted by thomcatspike at 10:54 AM on April 23, 2004


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as of this afternoon (courtest AntiWar tracking)...

706 US Military deaths in Iraq.
103 other coalition deaths in Iraq.
104 in Afghanistan.
3,952 injured.
4,895 to 6,370 Iraqi Military deaths
8,918 to 10,769 civilian casualties.

We're getting close to 20,000 estimated dead during the war on terror, not counting those who died on 9-11.

20,000 people is...
-The number of people killed by the Iranian earthquake in December.
-The number of people killed by cigarette smoking each year in Austrailia.
-If all of the people who lost their homes in the massive Philippine slums fire in January actually died in those fires.

How does it all compare to Vietnam? See some graphs...
posted by VulcanMike at 11:12 AM on April 23, 2004


Good for Tillman that he followed his compass. Too bad he and many others are gone.

The death of anybody in this war makes me sad. The fact that there is somebody that is recognizable brings it all home, but is no worse than any of the other thousand+ killed and many more injured.

Several months ago, we began reading in church all the names of the American soldiers killed in the war the past week, and praying for the many more people of all nationalities that we could not name. It is a chilling ritual - especially like last week when the list was long.
posted by grateful at 11:17 AM on April 23, 2004


Like anyone is going to miss an Arizona Cardinal.
posted by car_bomb at 11:18 AM on April 23, 2004


Is that really necessary?
posted by deadcowdan at 11:24 AM on April 23, 2004


A sad and amazing story of selflessness.

are the kids killed in the line of duty who signed up to help pay for college or support their families any less of a hero?

never the less ... sad story.
posted by specialk420 at 11:44 AM on April 23, 2004


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posted by mzanatta at 12:15 PM on April 23, 2004


I have to say that I feel really awful even thinking this, but ...

I watched tons of interviews with the Cardinals and with Tillman when he went to active duty, and all that kept going through my mind was "this guy wants to die a hero". This morning, when I heard the news, the first thing that went through my mind was "He got his wish".

Trust me, I'm not proud of these thoughts. And I mourn just as much as any. I just really wish he could have come home ... a hero.
posted by Wulfgar! at 12:47 PM on April 23, 2004


One of the most impressive things to me was that neither Pat Tillman or his brother would do media interviews. They didn't want to be glorified above the other members of their unit.

In light of this, I imagine the thing Tillman would want us to do right now is to reflect on the sacrifices that all of his fellow servicemen are making, and continue to make.

For those of you who read my comments about my student who proclaimed "nobody important has lost a leg in Iraq," (over in the recent Doonesbury thread) she and I had a talk about Tillman today. I think she gets that it doesn't matter whether the soldiers who die or get wounded are famous or not now, though it took somebody famous actually dying for her to understand.

Anyhow, my thoughts go out to Tillman's family and friends, and the family and friends of everyone who has lost somebody in Afghanistan and Iraq.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:33 PM on April 23, 2004


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posted by john_son at 1:34 PM on April 23, 2004


Inna lilahi wa inna ilahi Rajioon. Each and every one that dies in this "war".
posted by Mossy at 1:51 PM on April 23, 2004


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posted by joedan at 2:01 PM on April 23, 2004


The unusual thing about this is that Tillman was someone who had already made some accomplishments in his life - who knows what some of the other dead may have accomplished had they not been killed?

Such a tragic waste ...
posted by pyramid termite at 3:28 PM on April 23, 2004


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posted by geekyguy at 3:46 PM on April 23, 2004


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posted by FormlessOne at 4:31 PM on April 23, 2004


Rest in peace, Tillman.

Was his brother in the same unit as him?
posted by SisterHavana at 5:12 PM on April 23, 2004


I'm glad this story, at least, is getting coverage.

It's shameful that so many soldiers who die overseas are being smuggled back into the country under cover of censorship.
posted by SPrintF at 6:32 PM on April 23, 2004


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posted by Macboy at 6:38 PM on April 23, 2004


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posted by lazaruslong at 10:23 PM on April 23, 2004


Am I the only person thinking he made a really, really bad decision there?
posted by Belgand at 12:27 AM on April 24, 2004


To turn down financial security and risk his personal safety to do what he thought was right?
posted by weston at 12:36 AM on April 24, 2004


Wow. I guess Rangers really do Lead The Way.
posted by alumshubby at 8:24 AM on April 24, 2004


He probably would have behaved the same had he never even heard of the NFL. He probably was that way (good guy) from the very beginning.

I observe my own personal moment of thanks to Mr. Tillman right now........
posted by Cedric at 10:47 AM on April 24, 2004


To turn down financial security and risk his personal safety to do what he thought was right?

Even though what he thought was right was violent and misguided?

Why is this death more tragic, moving or touching than the other 20,000? Why is it ok to talk about his death in "the line of duty" on the news, but not ok to show pictures of the anonymous coffins of the hundreds of others who also died "in the line of duty"? What about the over 10,000 iraqis killed? The defenseless women, children and elderly, all killed "for their liberation".

It seems to me that this story is just another footnote in the endless tragedy that is Iraq and Afghanistan.
posted by sic at 1:46 PM on April 24, 2004


Even though what he thought was right was violent and misguided?

Why is this death more tragic, moving or touching than the other 20,000?


I think that a point is lost here. First of all, his death isn't more tragic; its more known. And it helps many people connect with the tragedy of the others around him. The same way that you read a book, say about Anne Frank, and you just don't feel for Anne, you feel for all of those in her condition. But it makes it personal. It's very hard to feel for a number like 20000 or 6 million or 3400, it's very easy to feel for one.

Violent or misguided? I suppose that that would be up to personal view then. But at least he saw his service as accomplishing something good. I believe that the Afghanistan mission was good. Whatever follows doesn't diminish sacrifices made or intent given. Would you say that the German resistors of the July 20 coup were not heroic even though their plan came to nothing?

I just see the intent and the individual action, vice political wide view, as that which establishes something as heroic. It doesn't have to be life or death, it can be anytime someone personifies of a virtue. Let us celebrate that at least. I mean if not that, what else?
posted by Lord Chancellor at 2:46 PM on April 24, 2004


I see your point about Anne Frank, but there is a difference: Anne Frank was a sensitive, helpless little girl, hiding from violence, while this person was a soldier who sought to do violence (this is an objective fact, I think). She suffered passively, he, most likely, caused much suffering (justified or not, as you said, it is a matter of opinion).

Anyway, if this story helps people understand the tragedy of war, and the particular futility of this version of the "war on terror", then that's useful. But if it's used to prop up the bogus patriotism that permits these pointless deaths, then, well, I guess you know what I mean.

The fact that the war against Afghanistan has not achieved its primary objective (capture Osama Bin Laden) is not the reason why I think he was violent and misguided (this in regards to your German resistor analogy); I think he was violent because he left a violent sport to join a violent army at a violent task: war. I think he was misguided because he was convinced by external forces (US government and media) that by killing Afghanis he was avenging the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

But you are right, that is a personal opinion.

I just see the intent and the individual action, vice political wide view, as that which establishes something as heroic

I'm sorry to say that following these guidelines, many horrible things could be considered heroic- as long as you think that the cause is just- even crashing a jumbo jet into the world trade center. . .
posted by sic at 4:07 PM on April 24, 2004


Sic - well said.
posted by grateful at 7:33 AM on April 26, 2004


I'm sorry to say that following these guidelines, many horrible things could be considered heroic- as long as you think that the cause is just- even crashing a jumbo jet into the world trade center. . .

And by the reverse guidelines -- never engaging in any violence for any reason whatsoever -- could lead to equally horrible consequences ("I couldn't possible shoot down a hijacked airliner full of innocent people/Interfere with a rape/etc"). You simply can't make a practical blanket statement about whether the use of force (even violent force) is always good or bad. Passive suffering can be principled and used as a tool for good. So can violent force. Both can also be resorts for the weak, cowardly, and faithless. What might matter most is the character of the person who wields the tool.

Tillman showed an awful lot of good character in making a choice of greater hardship, a smaller personal fortune, and the risk of shorter life to live.

Not only that, but one presumes he was living his conscience, and on an individual level, I'm not sure what else would matter more when it comes your time to check out.
posted by weston at 8:24 PM on April 29, 2004


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