Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com posted an interesting story yesterday, Memorial Day, about Pat Tillman.
He takes the "misconduct should disqualify a player from the Hall of Fame" argument and turns it on its head by arguing that a player with the most honorable conduct should be put in the Hall.
Of course, any of us football fans know the story.
Not long after 9-11, Tillman suspended his NFL career to go fight for his country in Afghanistan. During his time of selfless service, Tillman was killed by friendly fire.
Pat's courageous service for his country, especially when you realize the money he walked away from, and tragic death in that service are certainly things to be remembered, but does that merit getting into Canton?
Honestly, I don't think it does, at least not in a traditional sense.
I've always thought the Hall of Fame was to be judged solely on on-the-field merits. After the O.J. Simpson trial and more recently the Lawrence Taylor incident, many people have called for their removal from Canton.
Though I despise what they did (or allegedly did), I defend their right to be in the Hall of Fame because of what they did on the field long before these incidents.
Pat Tillman, though a good player and one hell of an American, did not and probably wouldn't have put up Hall of Fame stats had he stayed in the NFL. Because of that, I don't think he belongs in Canton.
However, I think the Hall of Fame, and not just football's, but all the major sports, should honor players who made these sacrifices. Maybe a wing in each building dedicated to selfless players.
Not just ones who suspended (and sometimes ended) their careers to go to war, though that could be an entire wing unto itself, but to honor all the players who went into some sort of public service during or after their careers and really made a difference.
I think this would be a worthy compromise to recognize players who were more than just a number on the field, but also men who made a difference in the communities around them.
So let the discussion begin. Let me know if you think Pat Tillman and others like him deserve a full ride to the Hall or if my idea of a special wing is something up your alley. Also feel free to name other players whose off-the-field achievements deserve recognition.
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