Marie Tillman, the widow of former NFL player and Army Ranger Pat Tillman, told CNN in a statement that she does not want her husband to be politicized.
“As a football player and soldier, Pat inspired countless Americans to unify,” Marie Tillman told CNN via ESPN. “It is my hope that his memory should always remind people that we must come together. Pat’s service, along with that of every man and woman’s service, should never be politicized in a way that divides us. We are too great of a country for that. Those that serve fight for the American ideals of freedom, justice, and democracy. They and their families know the cost of that fight. I know the very personal costs in a way I feel acutely every day.”
Tillman put his NFL career on hold in 2002 to join the U.S. Army, eight months after the Sept. 11 attacks. He served several tours in combat, before he was killed in Afghanistan in 2004 by friendly fire.
“The very action of self-expression and the freedom to speak from one’s heart — no matter those views — is what Pat and so many other Americans have given their lives for,” Marie Tillman said. “Even if they didn’t always agree with those views. It is my sincere hope that our leaders both understand and learn from the lessons of Pat’s life and death and also those of so many other brave Americans.”
President Donald Trump retweeted a tweet on Monday that included a picture of Tillman, with a message that suggested everybody stand up for the national anthem and boycott the NFL.
Trump’s recent debacle with the NFL stems from comments he made to his supporters in Alabama, when he said NFL owners who have players “disrespecting the flag” by kneeling should “get that son of a bitch off the field right now; he’s fired.”