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Former NFL Player Killed in Afghanistan
24 minutes ago

By JOHN J. LUMPKIN, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - Pat Tillman was killed in Afghanistan (news - web sites) after walking away from a multimillion-dollar NFL contract to join the Army Rangers, U.S. officials said Friday.

Tillman, who served with the Army Rangers, was 27.

Although the military had not officially confirmed his death, the White House put out a statement of sympathy that praised Tillman as "an inspiration both on and off the football field."

Former Cardinals head coach Dave McGinnis said he felt both overwhelming sorrow and tremendous pride in Tillman, who "represented all that was good in sports."

"Pat knew his purpose in life," McGinnis said. "He proudly walked away from a career in football to a greater calling."

Several of Tillman's friends have said the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks influenced his decision to enlist.

"In sports we have a tendency to overuse terms like courage and bravery and heroes," said Cardinals vice president Michael Bidwill, son of the team's owner Bill Bidwill, "and then someone like Pat Tillman comes along and reminds us what those terms really mean."

A memorial was set up outside Cardinals' headquarters in Tempe, Ariz., with Tillman's No. 14 uniform in a glass frame alongside two teddy bears and two bouquets. A pen was left for people to write messages to Tillman's family.

Gov. Janet Napolitano ordered flags at Arizona State University, Tillman's alma mater, flown at half-staff.

"Pat Tillman personified all the best values of his country and the NFL," commissioner Paul Tagliabue said in a statement. "He was an achiever and leader on many levels who always put his team, his community, and his country ahead of his personal interests."

Former teammate Pete Kendall, the Cardinals' starting center, said Tillman's death was a jolt of the reality regarding the nation's fight in the Middle East.

"The loss of Pat brings it home," Kendall said. "Everyday there are countless families having to get the same news."

Kendall remembered going out with Tillman and his future wife, Marie.

"We had a meal and a couple of beers," Kendall said. "It was a nice night. I really looked forward to buying him another beer sometime down the road."

Lt. Col. Matt Beevers, a spokesman for the U.S. military in Kabul, confirmed that a U.S. soldier was killed Thursday evening, but would not say whether it was Tillman.

He said the soldier died after a firefight with anti-coalition militia forces about 25 miles southwest of a U.S. military base at Khost, which has been the scene of frequent attacks.

Two other U.S. soldiers on the combat patrol were injured, and an Afghan soldier fighting alongside the Americans was killed.

Arizona Sen. John McCain noted that Tillman declined to speak publicly about his decision to put his NFL career on hold.

"He viewed his decision as no more patriotic than that of his less fortunate, less renowned countrymen who loved our country enough to volunteer to defend her in a time of peril," McCain, a Republican, said in a statement.

U.S. officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said a formal announcement was expected later in the day. Spokesmen at the Pentagon (news - web sites) and U.S. Army declined comment.

Tillman played four seasons with the Cardinals before enlisting in the Army in May 2002. The safety turned down a three-year, $3.6 million deal from Arizona.

He made the decision after returning from his honeymoon with his wife.

"He knew what was important to him, and he made his decision and stood by it," said quarterback Eli Manning, expected to be a top pick in Saturday's NFL draft.

Tillman's brother, Kevin, a former minor league baseball prospect in the Cleveland Indians (news)' organization, also joined the Rangers and served in the Middle East. They committed to three-year stints in the Army.

Some 110 U.S. soldiers have died — 39 of them in combat — during Operation Enduring Freedom, which began in Afghanistan in late 2001.

Tillman's agent, Frank Bauer, has called him a deep and clear thinker who has never valued material things.

In 2001, Tillman turned down a $9 million, five-year offer sheet from the Super Bowl champion St. Louis Rams (news) out of loyalty to the Cardinals, and by joining the Army, he passed on millions more from the team.

Tillman turned aside interview requests after joining the Army. In December, during a trip home, he made a surprise visit to his Cardinal teammates.

"For all the respect and love that all of us have for Pat Tillman and his brother and Marie, for what they did and the sacrifices they made ... believe me, if you have a chance to sit down and talk with them, that respect and that love and admiration increase tenfold," McGinnis said at the time.

It was not immediately clear when he went to Afghanistan.

The 5-foot-11, 200-pound Tillman was distinguished by his intelligence and appetite for rugged play. As an undersized linebacker at Arizona State, he was the Pac-10's defensive player of the year in 1997.

He set a franchise record with 224 tackles in 2000 and warmed up for 2001's training camp by competing in a 70.2-mile triathlon in June.

Tillman carried a 3.84 grade point average through college and graduated with high honors in 3 1/2 academic years with a degree in marketing.

"You don't find guys that have that combination of being as bright and as tough as him," Phil Snow, who coached Tillman as Arizona State's defensive coordinator, said in 2002. "This guy could go live in a foxhole for a year by himself with no food."

Tillman and his brother Kevin last year won the Arthur Ashe Courage award at the 11th annual ESPY Awards.
 

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I'm not trying to stir the pot on this one, but I wish the rest of the 700 service men and women who have died could have gotten this kind of press. Each and every one of them are special, and brave, and true patriots, and they all deserve to be remembered. May the heavens bless them all.

Please no hate mail on this one. It's just my :2cents:
 

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Inky said:
I'm not trying to stir the pot on this one, but I wish the rest of the 700 service men and women who have died could have gotten this kind of press. Each and every one of them are special, and brave, and true patriots, and they all deserve to be remembered. May the heavens bless them all.

Please no hate mail on this one. It's just my :2cents:
No hate mail coming: you are spot on. Fame ends on the battlefield and only the great and lucky survive. Each and every soldier who has died for this country deserves equal posthumous treatment.
 

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I agree that every soldier who has given their all deserves the same credit, however at the same time I can see why this man got the press he did. He could have chosen a very easy way of life with tons of money yet he chose to turn his back on all of it to serve his country. To me the press is to show people that there are those out there who know what is really important, it's not to say that he was better than any of the other fallen soldiers. :2cents:
 

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UMASS Student bashes Pat Tillman

I just read this on ESPN and it made me pretty angry


ESPN.com news services
AMHERST, Mass. -- A University of Massachusetts student has openly criticized Pat Tillman, calling the former NFL player a Rambo-like idiot in the school paper.


The column in question was submitted by graduate student Rene Gonzalez and published Wednesday in the Daily Collegian. It was titled "Pat Tillman is not a hero: he got what was coming to him."


Gonzalez writes that Tillman was a "Rambo" who probably acted out of "nationalist patriotic fantasies." In his own neighborhood in Puerto Rico, according to Gonzalez, Tillman would not have been considered a hero, but a "pendejo," a faggot or idiot.


The column drew harsh criticism from many on campus. University president Jack Wilson says the op-ed piece was "disgusting, arrogant and intellectually immature."


Tillman, who gave up his NFL career to join the Army Rangers in 2002, was killed in combat one week ago in Afghanistan. The military announced on Wednesday that he has been posthumously promoted to the rank of corporal and awarded the Purple Heart and Meritorious Service Medal.


"You know he was a real Rambo, who wanted to be in the 'real' thick of things," Gonzalez writes in his column, which is posted on the collegiate paper's Web site. "I could tell he was that type of macho guy, from his scowling, beefy face on the CNN pictures. Well, he got his wish. Even Rambo got shot in the third movie, but in real life, you die as a result of being shot. They should call Pat Tillman's army life 'Rambo 4: Rambo Attempts to Strike Back at His Former Rambo 3 Taliban Friends, and Gets Killed.'"


Gonzalez also says that Tillman's service was not "necessary."


"It wasn't like he was defending the East coast from an invasion of a foreign power. THAT would have been heroic and laudable," Gonzalez writes. "What he did was make himself useful to a foreign invading army, and he paid for it. It's hard to say I have any sympathy for his death because I don't feel like his 'service' was necessary. He wasn't defending me, nor was he defending the Afghani people. He was acting out his macho, patriotic crap and I guess someone with a bigger gun did him in."


In a letter to its readers Thursday, the Daily Collegian says Gonzalez' opinion in no way reflects that of the newspaper's editorial board. A column by one of the editors praising Tillman's sacrifice ran in the paper next to the one by Gonzalez.


"We do not hold back from printing news stories, columns or editorials that may upset our readership -- instead, we seek to both inform and stir debate through our publication," the letter, also posted on the Web site, reads. "Our decision to publish Gonzalez's column -- an opinion piece written by a member of our campus community -- is the only way for us to live up to this ideal."


Tillman will be eulogized at a public memorial service in his hometown of San Jose, Calif., early next week, and funeral arrangements are pending.


The body of Tillman arrived at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Monday. His brother, Spc. Kevin Tillman, also a Ranger with the 2nd Battalion of the 75th Ranger Regiment, was expected to accompany the body to the funeral home, Lawrence said.


Tillman was killed in a firefight on a road near Sperah, about 25 miles southwest of a U.S. base at Khost.


After coming under fire, Tillman's patrol got out of their vehicles and gave chase, moving toward the spot of the ambush. Beevers said the fighting was "sustained" and lasted 15-20 minutes.


The Cardinals said they will retire Tillman's No. 40 and name the plaza surrounding the new stadium under construction in suburban Glendale the "Pat Tillman Freedom Plaza."


Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
 

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Re: UMASS Student bashes Pat Tillman

cbr929_cholo said:
In his own neighborhood in Puerto Rico, according to Gonzalez, Tillman would not have been considered a hero, but a "pendejo," a faggot or idiot.
This is the part I find the most interesting. Having lived in Puerto Rico for a while, I am entirely unsurprised to find out that the author of the article is from there. I would expound this further, but it's best explained by going there and experiencing it for yourself. IMO, our best hope is that Puerto Rico sinks into the ocean before we consider making it a state.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
The school responds....

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2004/football/nfl/04/29/bc.fbn.umass.tillmanfla.ap/index.html

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UMass president rips student column on Tillman
Updated: Friday April 30, 2004 1:46AM

AMHERST, Mass. (AP) -- A University of Massachusetts graduate student who wrote a campus newspaper column saying former NFL player Pat Tillman was not a hero for being killed while fighting in Afghanistan was sharply criticized Thursday by the school's president.

UMass president Jack Wilson issued a statement saying Rene Gonzalez' comments in The Daily Collegian "are a disgusting, arrogant and intellectually immature attack on a human being who died in service to his country."

In his column, which ran Wednesday on the opinion page and was posted on the newspaper's Web site, Gonzalez called the former Arizona Cardinals safety a "G.I. Joe guy who got what was coming to him."

"That was not heroism," Gonzalez wrote. "It was prophetic idiocy."

His column also criticizes America's military response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Tillman, the San Jose, Calif., native who gave up his NFL career to join the Army Rangers in 2002, was killed in combat April 22 in Afghanistan.

While recognizing Gonzalez' right to free speech, Wilson said the student owes Tillman a "debt of gratitude," and said he should apologize to Tillman's friends and family.

Jared Nokes, president of the Student Government Association, also issued a statement condemning Gonzalez' column.

Gonzalez did not respond to telephone and e-mail messages left Thursday by The Associated Press.

In a response to the controversy generated by the column, the paper's editorial board ran a letter to readers in Thursday's edition saying Gonzalez's views do not reflect The Collegian's opinion.

"We do not hold back from printing news stories, columns or editorials that may upset our readership -- instead, we seek to both inform and stir debate through our publication," the letter said. "Our decision to publish Gonzalez' column -- an opinion piece written by a member of our campus community -- is the only way for us to live up to this ideal."
 

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Re: Re: UMASS Student bashes Pat Tillman

spicersh said:
This is the part I find the most interesting. Having lived in Puerto Rico for a while, I am entirely unsurprised to find out that the author of the article is from there. I would expound this further, but it's best explained by going there and experiencing it for yourself. IMO, our best hope is that Puerto Rico sinks into the ocean before we consider making it a state.

Well said. Or go to NYC for the Puerto Rican Day parade and festivals. I was there in June of 2001 and it was the worst display of humanity that I've ever seen.
 
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