“Barely a Footnote”

Superbowl XLIII and the NFL’s Betrayal of Pat Tillman
Guy Montag (feralfirefighter.blogspot.com) June 20, 2010

Unveiling of Pat Tillman statue at Univesity of Phoenix Stadium

General Petraeus performs the coin toss before Super Bowl XLIII

“Pat Tillman played for the Arizona Cardinals from 1998 through 2001, yet, as you watch the Cardinals play the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, you might neve know it. …The NFL loves to wrap itself in the flag, yet the league has no plans to remember him. The Cardinals have a statue and reflecting pool dedicated to Tillman outside their stadium, but nothing on their jerseys.” -- Bill Plaschke, LA Times 1-25-09 “You couldn't help but notice in the days before tonight's Super Bowl that the memory of Pat Tillman feels like barely a footnote. In fact, the NFL sent out a news release a couple of days ago, with the trumpeting headline: "NFL salutes service, courage and bravery in Super Bowl XLIII." But it had nothing to do with Tillman. … the NFL picked a beautiful theme for the Super Bowl … It's difficult to think of better words to describe the most important Cardinal any of us will ever know.” -- Rick Maese, Baltimore Sun 2-01-09 “I think they [NFL] haven't gone out of their way to help; they've exploited Pat, just like the military. … they have a beautiful statue to him at Cardinal Stadium. I don't know if that's more for us or him; I feel like it's more for them. … They haven't really helped to try to find out what happened to Pat. …It's like, "Okay, we had the jersey dedication, we did this, let's move on." … -- Mary Tilllman, 6-02-08 … He [Pat Tillman] might have been the most celebrated story of this year's Super Bowl between his old Arizona team and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Instead, he's the saddest. And also the most awkward … … what should have been the dream story that cemented the marriage between the NFL and the US Army, turned into a terrible tragedy and a mortifying embarrassment. … when the Stealth Bomber roars overhead before the game on Sunday … maybe people will remember that American sport's connection with its armed forces is not all about glory. It's about secrets, lies and death, too. -- Oliver Holt, The Mirror 1-28-09

“Barely a Footnote”
Superbowl XLIII and the NFL’s Betrayal of Pat Tillman
June 20, 2010 During his 2004 re-election campaign, President Bush addressed Cardinal fans on the Jumbotron during an emotional halftime ceremony in which the Arizona franchise retired Pat Tillman's jersey number. Yet, during the 2009 Superbowl with his team (the Arizona Cardinals) playing the Steelers, Pat Tillman was barely a footnote. Old news. A bit troublesome for the media and NFL to dwell upon. A bit of an embarrassment. Best ignored. The Media (New York Times in particular) Army, Congress, and the Presidency (both Bush and Obama administrations) have betrayed the Tillman family by their failure to hold accountable those responsible for the cover-up of Pat Tillman’s friendly-fire death (see documents posted at feralfirefighter.blogspot.com for details). During 2007-2008 the Democratic Congress (particularly Congressman Waxman, Senator Webb, and Senator McCain) pretended to “investigate” the Army’s handling of Tillman’s death. But they merely white-washed those involved, General Stanley McChrystal. Last year, despite General McChrystal’s central role in orchestrating the cover-up of the friendlyfire death of Pat Tillman and the fabrication of his Silver Star citation, McChrystal was promoted to the Army’s highest rank by the Senate and President Obama, Ironically, during Superbowl XLIII, Gen. David Petreaus (a long-time friend who’s worked closely with Gen. McChrystal and pushed for his promotion) did the coin toss at the beginning of the game and was honored for his “service, courage and bravery.” Yet, during the Superbowl not a word about Pat Tillman (who exemplified those values) was televised. The NFL has betrayed the Tillman family as well. They exploited the death of Pat Tillman, yet refused to help the Tillman family in their search for the truth. I guess the NFL figures they’ve paid for a statue, had a jersey dedication, paid for a Tillman USO in Afghanistan … time to move on. The NFL turned Pat Tillman into an icon, instead of recognizing his iconoclastic nature. I’m still angry that the truth about Pat’s life and death has been buried by the media and government. Tillman was enshrined as an icon while the man fell by the wayside, his parents used as props at his funeral. “The truth may be painful, but it’s the truth,” his mother said. “If you feel you’re being lied to, you can never put it to rest.” We should honor Pat Tillman’s memory by honoring the man, not the myth.The iconoclast, not the icon. As his mother said, “Pat would have wanted to be remembered as an individual, not as a stock figure or political prop. Pat was a real hero, not what they used him as.” Guy Montag From the NFL’s 1-29-09 press release, “NFL Salutes Service, Courage and Bravery in Super Bowl XLIII”:

The NFL will salute the military and the heroic crew of US Airways Flight 1549 during Super Bowl XLIII pregame festivities at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay live on NBC on Feb. 1; it was announced today. … GENERAL DAVID H. PETRAEUS, commander of the United States Central Command, will toss the coin in a special ceremony moments before the start of the game. The US Airways Flight 1549 crew … will be recognized on the field for helping safely rescue 150 passengers on New York's Hudson River last month. FAITH HILL will sing "America the Beautiful" and JENNIFER HUDSON will perform the National Anthem prior to the coin toss. Note: In Spring 2009, General Petreaus urged President Obama to fire General McKeirnan and promote General McChrystal as the new commander of the Afghan War. General McChrystal played the central role in the cover-up of Pat Tillman’s friendly-fire death and directly supervised the writing of his fraudulent Silver Star. I wasn’t happy to see Gen. Petreaus on the field honored for his service, courage and bravery when he’s certainly aware of the role played by his friend Gen. McChrystal in the Tillman case (see my post “The Emperor’s General” for more details at feralfirefighter.blogspot.com) ... From the Baltimore Sun’s Rick Maese’s “Cardinals stand as enduring tribute to Tillman” (201-09): “Faith Hill will sing "America the Beautiful." Jennifer Hudson will belt out the national anthem. Fighter jets will fly overhead. Gen. David Petraeus, commander of the U.S. Central Command, will toss the coin. And then two teams will clash on a lush spread of grass and 150 million fans from sea to shining sea will stop everything to indulge.” “America and football. A union as perfect as any, inspiring among its faithful the most important of tenets: loyalty and love and devotion. But something's missing. You couldn't help but notice in the days before tonight's Super Bowl that the memory of Pat Tillman feels like barely a footnote. In fact, the NFL sent out a news release a couple of days ago, with the trumpeting headline: "NFL salutes service, courage and bravery in Super Bowl XLIII." But it had nothing to do with Tillman. He deserves to be remembered today.” … “So today we celebrate America and football. And what a great union it is. We would be hard-pressed to find someone who bridged the two or represented either better than Pat Tillman. Though it has announced no plans to pay tribute to Tillman today, the NFL picked a beautiful theme for the Super Bowl - service, courage and bravery. It's difficult to think of better words to describe the most important Cardinal any of us will ever know.” ... From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Chuck Finder’s “Players sense hero's presence” (201-09):

“Pat Tillman -- Played for the Cardinals from 1998 through 2001. … An 8-foot bronze statue, hair flying, adorns a "Freedom Plaza" outside University of Phoenix Stadium. His retired No. 40 and name appears in their Ring of Honor. His photo hangs in the trainer's room and elsewhere around the team's Tempe, Ariz., facility. …” “Yet now that the Cardinals -- after 89 mostly mediocre-to-miserable years -- have reached the summit of Super Bowl XLIII today against the Steelers, questions remain: What about honoring Tillman here? … Marie Tillman, his widow and now chairman of the Pat Tillman Foundation, has been invited to sit with the Cardinals' owners at Raymond James Stadium, Bidwill [Cardinal’s owner] said. But beyond that, no patches? No stickers on helmets? No ... something?” “NFL officials plan to show a scoreboard video tribute to Tillman in a game where they are honoring, among others, military veterans in a display that includes Iraq commander Gen. David Petreaus participating in the coin toss.” Note: It appears that Pat’s mother, Mary Tillman and her family were not invited to the Superbowl. She has been a vocal critic of the the NFL for refusing to help find her out what happened to her son. ... From Bill Plaschke’s 1-25-09 column, “Pat Tillman’s Friend Hasn’t Forgotten Him”: “This is a story not only about a missing tag [dogtag given to a teammate], but a missing legacy. The Super Bowl is here, but any mention of the most nationally beloved alumnus of either team is not. Pat Tillman played for the Arizona Cardinals from 1998 through 2001, yet, as you watch the Cardinals play the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, you might never know it.” “The NFL loves to wrap itself in the flag, yet the league has no plans to remember him. The Cardinals have a statue and reflecting pool dedicated to Tillman outside their stadium, but nothing on their jerseys. An NFL spokesman said there may be something about Tillman on the NBC television broadcast, but there were no guarantees.” “‘I just think there's some missed opportunities there," said Walz, a linebacker who was Tillman's training camp and road roommate during their four-year Cardinals career. ‘Given what Pat represented, you would think they would do something.’” ... From Dave Zirin’s 6-08-08 column, “The NFL's Tillman offense: The League Screams Patriotism But is Silent When the Family of a Patriot Seeks its Help”: Mary Tillman has a message for the National Football League: Help me find out what happened to my son. … Now, after six investigations and two congressional hearings, there remain many unanswered questions about Tillman's death and the Army's initial investigation of it. His family has challenged the Bush administration, the Pentagon and the media to uncover the truth. … In a recent interview with me, she was highly critical of the actions of the NFL

because she believes it continues to bathe in the glory of her son's patriotic sacrifice while doing little to help the Tillman family find out how Pat died. War and patriotism, of course, have long been associated with the culture of football. … Military airplanes overfly many stadiums before games begin. … The NFL has seized on Pat Tillman as another way to connect with the red, white and blue sports fan. Earlier this year, former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue brought together the NFL and the United Service Organizations to build the Pat Tillman USO Center at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. And the league just opened an exhibit dedicated to Tillman at its Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. The league certainly seems to have the clout to get things moving. Owners of professional football teams are some of the wealthiest and best-connected people in the United States. … 20 veterans who saw combat in Iraq and Afghanistan took the extraordinary step last August of writing a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, asking his help in securing the release of the requested documents. Unfortunately, the league has not responded to Mary Tillman or the veterans. ... During David Zirin’s interview with Mary Tillman last year “Like He Died Twice': Mary Tillman's Lonesome Road” (6-02-08) Mary Tillman criticized the NFL leadership for their failure to help her uncover the truth: It seems the NFL has taken many opportunities to commemorate Pat, but they don't want to get behind you. Do you think they want to have it both ways? I think they haven't gone out of their way to help; they've exploited Pat, just like the military. I do believe that. I mean, they have a beautiful statue to him at Cardinal Stadium. I don't know if that's more for us or him; I feel like it's more for them. It's sad for me to say that, but I think it's true. They haven't really helped to try to find out what happened to Pat. They have tremendous power... Oh, absolutely. But there has been no effort to find out. You know, and the fact that players who played with him wanted to wear his number--they wouldn't let them do that. It's a minor thing I suppose, but at the same time I think it's kind of telling. It's like, "Okay, we had the jersey dedication, we did this, let's move on." I think that speaks a lot. If you could say something to the last two NFL commissioners Roger Goodell and Paul Tagliabue if they were here right now, what would that be? Well, I would say to them that they exploited Pat no differently than the military. You know, this is a young man who was quite unique. He was trying to do the right thing and it would be the right thing to try and find out what happened to him.” ...

The Mirror UK’s Oliver Holt wrote in “The tragic demise of Pat Tillman is the Star Spangled Tragedy of the Super Bow l” (1-28-09): “But given the sacrifice Tillman made, given that he would only be 31 if he was still alive and might have been playing in this Super Bowl, there has been little mention of him here in Tampa. … the NFL says nothing is planned.” “A US Marine sergeant with a camera crew and a badge that said 'Pentagon Channel' moved purposefully from one Arizona Cardinals player to another yesterday. … I followed that sergeant around the sideline for a while and heard him speaking to other Cardinals players, too. Not once did he mention Pat Tillman.” “That is just part of Tillman's tragedy. He might have been the most celebrated story of this year's Super Bowl between his old Arizona team and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Instead, he's the saddest. And also the most awkward. … what should have been the dream story that cemented the marriage between the NFL and the US Army, turned into a terrible tragedy and a mortifying embarrassment.” “… when the Stealth Bomber roars overhead before the game on Sunday, even in the excitement of the moment, maybe people will remember that American sport's connection with its armed forces is not all about glory. It's about secrets, lies and death, too.”

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