Hopefully, no one has forgotten his contributions to our nation. He was a truly selfless man whose memory should live on strongly for decades.
What about the NFL? The league has done plenty to honor his memory, and it likely will continue to do so. Check out the video above — a touching interview between NFL Network's Jeff Darlington and Tillman's widow, Marie. She has helped carry on Pat's spirit and enlighten people about the incredible sacrifices he made for himself, his family and his country.
And if you ask NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth, he believes — after reading this ESPN piece — that Tillman has done enough to be considered for entry into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
If I live to be a million years old, I will never understand why Pat Tillman is not in the NFL Hall of Fame. Thanks ESPN. Great reporting.— Cris Collinsworth (@CollinsworthNBC) April 20, 2014
It's a fascinating debate. As a player, he appeared in only 60 games for the Arizona Cardinals and tallied three interceptions, 2.5 sacks and three fumble recoveries in his career. Tillman was a good, hard-nosed player who was just entering his prime after four NFL seasons following the 2001 campaign when he gave up everything and reported for duty to join the fight of hunting down Osama bin Laden.
As a player, Tillman's credentials fall short. There are only 24 defensive backs in Canton, and even if Tillman played 10-12 years in the league, it's not likely he would have joined that group.
But clearly, Tillman's contributions go way beyond interceptions. The Hall of Fame voters, as it says on the official website, are charged with inducting "the finest the game has produced" into Canton, and Collinsworth's point is that Tillman certainly qualifies in that regard.
There are 19 "contributors" who have been elected to the Hall of Fame over the years, with the majority of them former commissioners, team owners, scouts, historians and the like. Could Tillman perhaps fit into that category?
After all, he has been out of the game now 10 years and, per one Hall of Fame voter who has been on the committee for several years, has never come up seriously in conversation.
And here's the natural follow-up: Would Pat even have wanted to be mentioned for the Pro Football Hall of Fame? Likely not. He was named to the College Football Hall of Fame, and for good reason: his standout career at Arizona State. It's a nice way of honoring him. But as this excellent 2011 feature by ESPN's Johnette Howard points out, via Tillman's closest friends, it's not likely that Tillman would have wanted to be honored in that way.
Collinsworth's tweets bring up the talk of Tillman on the anniversary of his death in the line of duty, and we're grateful that his name remains one that resonates with people to this day. It should. But there might be other ways to honor his memory than by forcing his induction into the Hall of Fame.
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