A reader asked me this question: “Would Donald Trump have trashed Pat Tillman’s family?”
He said, “If the person criticizing him at the convention had been Tillman’s dad, or Tillman’s brother, or Tillman’s mother, instead of the Muslim parents of the dead soldier (Khizr and Ghazala Khan, parents of fallen U.S. Army Capt. Humayun S. M. Khan) can you imagine Trump saying the same stuff? Because I can’t.”
Pat Tillman, the beloved NFL player turned Army Ranger who was killed in Afghanistan by friendly fire 12 years ago today, is being remembered as “a hero who died in service to our country.”
Tillman famously walked away from a $3.6 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals and his new wife in 2002 to fight for his country after the attacks of 9/11. His death on April 22, 2004, in Afghanistan was initially attributed to enemy fire as he courageously charged a hill to protect his fellow rangers.
At least, that’s what the Army told his family and America came to believe.
Tillman’s family was told that he was killed by the enemy, which was reinforced when the Army awarded him a Silver Star for his “gallantry in action against an armed enemy.”
In the 1998 National Football League Draft, Tillman was selected as the 226th pick by the Arizona Cardinals. Tillman moved over to play the safety position in the NFL and started ten of sixteen games in his rookie season.
At one point in his NFL career, Tillman turned down a five-year, $9 million contract offer from the St. Louis Rams out of loyalty to the Cardinals.
Sports Illustrated football writer Paul Zimmerman (“Dr. Z”) named Tillman to his 2000 NFL All-Pro team after Tillman finished with 155 tackles (120 solo), 1.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 9 pass deflections and 1 interception for 30 yards.
Tillman finished his career with totals of 238 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 3 interceptions for 37 yards, 3 forced fumbles, 12 pass deflections, and 3 fumble recoveries in 60 career games. In addition he also had 1 rush attempt for 4 yards and returned 3 kickoffs for 33 yards.
In May 2002, eight months after the September 11 attacks and after completing the fifteen remaining games of the 2001 season which followed the attacks (at a salary of $512,000 per year), Tillman turned down a contract offer of $3.6 million over three years from the Cardinals to enlist in the U.S. Army.