So one of the controversies of the day Monday, via e-mails and Twitter, centered on Pat Tillman and whether his valiant life, tragic death and turning down NFL millions to join the Army Rangers in the war in Afghanistan merits a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Cris Collinsworth has advanced this cause often since Tillman's death in 2004, and it has gained some traction. The Tillman story is truly an amazing one. He was a seventh-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals in 1998, worked his way into their starting lineup, made Dr. Z's all-pro team in 2000, played four years, and, on the verge of earning a $3.6-million free-agent contract in 2002, quit football to serve his country. On draft weekend 2004, he was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan. Tillman is the shiningest example of everything that is good about young people in this country -- he gave up riches to do what he thought was right, and he died doing it.
I'd say 30 to 40 percent of those who responded to my Twitter flurry about Tillman and Canton on Memorial Day were in favor of enshrinement. I'm not. Here's why.
• The Pro Football Hall of Fame is for what men do on the football field.
• In the 90-year history of the NFL, 24 young men who played in the league died serving the U.S. Google Bob Kalsu, the Bills lineman who died in Vietnam. If Tillman goes in, should the other 23 also be enshrined?
• Why should only veterans who died be admitted to Canton? What about those who may have served valiantly as fighter pilots in World War II and came home, or infantrymen who fought in Vietnam, or ... you get the picture.
• Do selectors (I'm one of the 44 with a Hall of Fame vote) stop at only military heroes, or do we enshrine other footballers who go on to do great things in life? Byron "Whizzer'' White went from running back to the Supreme Court. Should he get in? Jack Kemp, the great quarterback-turned-politician?
REACT: Does Pat Tillman belong in the Hall of Fame?
The slope is slippery. I got three or four Tweets last night from people who said -- and I agree -- that Tillman would never, ever want to get into the Hall of Fame because of what he did as a soldier.
Here's an e-mail I received on the topic:
As a Navy vet and wife of an active duty Naval Officer, I believe that putting Pat Tillman in the Football Hall of Fame because he was killed in action cheapens both the Hall and Tillman's sacrifice. As you said, the Football Hall of Fame is about performance on the football field and shouldn't be about anything else. More importantly, putting one's life on the line as Tillman did means much more than 1,000 receptions. I'm not disrespecting football, but no one ever defended someone's freedom by scoring a touchdown. Tillman's sacrifice, as well as the sacrifices made by all of our Sailors, Marines, Soldiers, Airmen, Coast Guardsman, and National Guardsman, should never be forgotten, but a sports hall of fame isn't the place for it. --LT Jennifer Johnson, USN (Ret), Woodbridge, Va.
I hope that's the last word on this, but I doubt it is.
Now for your other e-mail:
• MOSS WILL BE MOSS. "What do you make of the latest news regarding Randy Moss cutting ties with his agent? Is this a sign he wants out of New England after next season?''--Jeb, Bath, Maine
Moss has said publicly he feels this is his last year in New England. He thinks the Patriots don't want to spend big money on a receiver who will be 34 in 2011, and my guess is he's probably right. But who knows? If the Patriots don't see great progress out of Taylor Price by season's end, they might think they need the security blanket of Moss for another couple of years. As far as the agent change, Moss told Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald that he feels he's been short-changed in the endorsement department. I doubt he did that with an eye on breaking the bank in 2011, though I'm sure in eight months that will be his focus.
• YOU'RE NOT ALONE, BRAD. "Peter, regarding the New York/New Jersey 2014 Super Bowl, you state that you're against it because people will pay ridiculously high prices to sit in the cold and possible inclement weather for over 5 hours. My response -- then don't come to the game!! For too long, we have complained that at least 50 percent of those people who go to the Super Bowl have no idea what's going on. Maybe a Super Bowl out in the cold will only attract real football fans who have some knowledge of the sport and actually want to be there to see the game. I have had Giants season tickets for over 30 years. Do you know how many times I have been out in the cold and bad weather for over 7 hours without worry of snow, sleet, or ice? You and the other critics of this decision need to stop treating the Super Bowl like it's some coat-and-tie event that can only be held in a perfect venue. When did you forget that this is the NFL?''--Brad, New York
I got your point loud and clear. But the one thing you must remember is the coat-and-tie set will be coming to this game -- or scalping their seats for $5,000 or $6,000 apiece. Will you pay that? Will the average Joe pay that much to see a football game, albeit a historic one? I doubt it.
• SIMPLY AN OVERSIGHT. "I love your column and look forward to reading it every Monday. However I have to ask why you left Chad Ochocinco off your list of potential HOF receivers? He is the only receiver to ever lead his league in receiving four years in a row. Always puts up good numbers (minus 2008) and is a seven-time Pro Bowler. That sounds like HOF type attributes to me."--Ben Indino, Colorado Springs, Colo.
I blew it. There were about 30 receivers whose stats I was looking at and I simply forgot to include him. He certainly is among those who has a chance to catch 1,000 balls and have his his case heard for Canton one day. I apologize for the oversight.
• I CAN'T HELP MYSELF. "Peter, On this memorial day, you once again show why being a fan of your columns is so frustrating. I love your football commentary and analysis, and consider it a can't-miss column. But every time you delve into political commentary, you lose me. Of all days, Memorial Day, a day devoted to honoring the fallen heroes who protected our liberty with their blood, you choose to lionize a man (Charles Goodell) whose main claim to fame(other than his relationship to the commissioner) is that he introduced legislation to de-fund troops who were in harms way, and treat his actions as courageous, is simply mis-guided. Whatever the merits (or not) of that awful war, pulling the rug out from under the troops was simply immoral not courageous. Peter, I love your football analysis, but please stay out of politics!"--Chuck Poore, Dallas, Ga.
Why is it that if a politician speaks out against funding a war that he is anti-soldier automatically? So Goodell was clearly tormented by this decision from everything I've read. His press secretary told me Saturday that when Goodell was informed about the Kent State shootings, he cried in his office. I think one of the things Vietnam taught us is it wasn't necessarily patriotic to back up what the president wanted.