Like some of you I suspect, I hadn't read Dave Zirin's great Mary Tillman interview over at his blog, Edge of Sports, when it came out last week. But now he's adapted it as an opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times, and I highly recommend taking the time to give them both a look. In it, Mary Tillman accuses the NFL of exploiting her son, Pat Tillman, as much as the military did. And considering that the military initially tried to cover up Tillman's death by friendly fire in Afghanistan, that's a pretty strong statement.
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. "I think the [NFL] has not gone out of its way to help," she told me. The league has "exploited Pat, just like the military. ... [It has] a beautiful statue to him at the Cardinals' stadium. I don't know if that's more for us or the [NFL]. I feel like it's more for the league."
I'm not sure what active role the NFL could play in uncovering the truth about Tillman's death. I think we can all agree, however, that it's poor form for Roger Goodell to simply ignore Mary Tillman's letter to him. Come on Roger; if nothing else at least give the impression that you're not a manipulative corporate bastard.
"If this [a death of family member or friend under unclear circumstances] had happened to any one of us," said Mary Tillman, "Pat would have gone through a wall to find out the truth. So, it's the least I can do and the least any one of us can do [to find out how he died.]"
The NFL's Tillman Offense [Los Angeles Times]
'Like He Died Twice:' Mary Tillman's Lonesome Road [The Edge Of Sports]