The NFL and the US military won’t leave Pat Tillman alone

The US military was on full display during the Super Bowl, and of course that included using Pat Tillman as a prop.

The US military was on full display during the Super Bowl, and of course, this included using Pat Tillman as a backup.
Picture: Getty Images

The NFL is like official advertising wing of the US military is nothing new. From the wartime conditions that analysts and commentators applied to the game itself, to the official camouflage mask, to Gronk advertising insurance just for members of the military and their families, the two have gone hand in hand for decades. It shouldn’t have come as much of a shock that on their biggest stage, The NFL would increase that to 11. Subtlety is not the league’s forte.

For a coin toss, the league kicked out its honorary captains, all Pat Tillman Scholars. And the opening video delivered the same message that the league, and initially the government, wants us to swallow. We know that story about Tillman leaving his NFL career to serve in the military, become a Ranger and die in combat. All parties like to praise him as everything that is right with the state, the army and the government and how everything is intertwined.

Everyone knows the truth about Pat Tillman’s death

But that story has been dropped for some time. Tillman was more of a symbol of rebellion, calling the war in Iraq “fucking illegal”. He intended to meet with Noam Chomsky after he returned. He refused to let the Bush administration use him as a piece of propaganda to increase approval of a war he hated.

We know he was killed by friendly fire. We know the army and the government tried to cover it up, even from Tillman’s family. This is the whole story, and Sunday night the NFL hoped we’d just forget. Tillman didn’t want to be a prop in life. We can be sure that not even 19 years after death.

Although certainly his courage and dedication are worth remembering, Tillman it became a symbol of a failed war and the government’s clumsy use of the military. Their willingness to turn anyone into a pawn, especially after their death when they can’t be argued with. That’s what the NFL wanted so badly to play Sunday night.

Tillman should not be erased from NFL annals, but the full story should be told. Tillman would be a better symbol for the league’s kneeling players, given how informed a thinker he was and wasn’t afraid to stand up for what he believed in, rather than the league trying to take down the armed forces once again.

If the NFL really respected the troops, they might ask serious questions about how they are deployed and protected. But in fact it is not, it cares about the money of those who needlessly put them in danger. Or use the dead man’s story for their own purposes, with the help of the NFL. I kind of doubt they’ll use honorary captains to tell that story next year.

The players decide that

You’ll spend the next week hearing about how the referees decided the Super Bowl. About how it is not fair that “the players did not decide the match”. If you have a Philly native in your life (and who doesn’t?), you’ll be hearing about it for the next five years. Maybe longer. Maybe the only way out will be the warm embrace of death.

But this is how it is, the players have decided. Juju Smith-Schuster beat James Bradberry, and he was the first to get the jersey. Smith-Schuster earned a call-up to his team, and he got it. You do not trust me?

The idea that referees in any sport should spend the final minutes of any competition trying to force whistles through their small intestines while checking the stadium architecture instead of the action on the pitch, allowing the players to simply have each other like the Battle of Stirling has always been bullshit. It just ensures that the best players will be grabbed, grabbed and brought down to the level of the worst players. That’s what we want. A player who rises above the enormity of the situation to do something pathetic. Not some punter who could prevent it by performing a flying body block or cobra, which would otherwise draw a whistle or flag.

Two players decided that the Chiefs would get the deciding penalty. And that’s exactly what they got. That’s justice, even if you wear green.

And screw Philly anyway. Maybe the Sixers can complete a set of championship barf-ups in June (sadly, no hope for the Flyers).

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