Those who despair about the self-indulgent behavior of so many professional athletes should be both saddened and encouraged by the death of Pat Tillman, the former National Football League player who was killed Thursday in southeastern Afghanistan.
We are saddened that the former defensive star at Arizona State with the Arizona Cardinals died so young and in his prime-but no more so than his nearly 750 comrades who have given their lives in Iraq since the U.S. military action began in March 2003.
But we can be encouraged be his example of putting purpose over profit and character over career. Tillman walked way from a lucrative pro career to join the Army Rangers-and he did it without drawing attention to himself. In fact, he declined numerous requests for interviews-and asked for no favors from the military-because he didn’t feel his sacrifice was any greater than anyone else who answered the call to take up arms in the war on terrorism.
We hope the youth of America will take note of this role model. Millions of young people dream of living the glamorous lifestyle that comes with professional sports. Pat Tillman demonstrated not only that such dreams can be achieved, but they can set aside for something vastly better. -DR