reprinted from March 19, 2008........
When we speak of values in this country we talk about God, family, patriotism and a lot of other institutions that politicians use as punchlines.
When I think of true patriotism, true sacrifice, I cannot get Pat Tillman out of my mind.
His is the story of a hero. A man who chose to forgo the fame and fortune of the NFL to fight for his country.
How many of us can say we would have done that?
How many of our other sports "heroes" would even consider that?
Not many. He did, and regardless of your politics, regardless of whether you believe that America is wrong or right you have to respect this man's actions.
As we surpass the five-year hallmark of our ill-advised invasion of Iraq, I think primarily of Tillman and his brother Kevin (who left his minor-league baseball career to join Pat in the Armed Forces) and the thousands of Americans who are still risking their lives furthering American interests in the Middle East.
In this country, we loosely throw around words such as "hero" and "role model" and even attach them to cheaters and liars such as Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.
We sit back and watch while the likes of "Pacman" Jones and Michael Vick piss away their careers and lives, and then feel sorry for them when they are banned from their sport.
Let's put things in perspective, America.
Tillman tragically lost his life on April 22, 2004, apparently a victim of friendly fire. That does not diminish him in the eyes of America. In fact, it makes him even more of a hero.
He could have stayed in Arizona, became wealthy and grew old with the rest of us.
But he chose not to. He decided he was going to make a difference.
I would like to think that he succeeded. In fact, I'm going to make it a point that his life and death do not go for for naught.
But this country still doesn't get it. They still have no idea what a real hero is.
So keep talking about these scumbags and lowlifes who occupy positions in professional sports. That's your prerogative.
But next time you're about to call someone a hero, think about No. 40 of the Arizona Cardinals.
Then choose another word...