The widow of slain National Football League (NFL) player Pat Tillman says President Trump should not “politicize” his death amid national debate over the professional football league.
Tillman died in 2004 following a friendly fire incident in Afghanistan after leaving the NFL to serve in the Army Rangers due to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“As a football player and soldier, Pat inspired countless Americans to unify,” Marie Tillman told CNN late Monday.
“It is my hope that his memory should always remind people that we must come together,” she continued.
“Pat’s service, along with that of every man and woman’s service, should never be politicized in a way that divides us.”
Some Twitter users on Tuesday criticized President Trump for bringing Pat Tillman into the discussion over the NFL’s ongoing protests over the national anthem.
Oh shut up. Stop listening to Robber Mnuchin & let this alone. PS learn something about Pat Tillman!— Margaret Shank (@margaret_shank) September 26, 2017
Pat Tillman in 2002 turned down a contract offer of $3.6 million over three years from the Arizona Cardinals to enlist in the Army.
The football star was moved to action by the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks across America’s East Coast and ultimately served in Afghanistan and Iraq before his death.
Trump on Monday re-tweeted a Twitter user who mentioned Pat Tillman’s death in light of the ongoing demonstrations in the NFL.
Trump last Friday criticized athletes who do not stand for the national anthem, provoking a widespread reaction across the NFL over the weekend.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now – he is fired,’” Trump said during a rally in Alabama for Senate candidate Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL).
Multiple NFL coaches, executives and players have since knelt during “The Star-Spangled Banner” following Trump’s remarks.
Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick first knelt during the song in 2016 in a protest against police treatment of minorities in the U.S.
Kaepernick’s initial gesture has since been imitated by multiple professional athletes across several sports.
We asked veterans how they really feel about the NFL anthem protests.