The widow of former Arizona Cardinals safety and U.S. Army ranger Pat Tillman, says she doesn't want the memory of her husband to be politicized.
"As a football player and soldier, Pat inspired countless Americans to unify," Marie Tillman said to CNN. "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."
Pat Tillman left the NFL to join the U.S. Army in 2002 and was killed in Afghanistan in 2004.
President Donald Trump, who has been critical of NFL players that take a knee during the playing of the national anthem, retweeted an account that referred to Pat Tillman with the hashtags "StandForOurAnthem" and "BoycottNFL.
"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a b---- off the field right now, out, he's fired. He's fired,'" Trump said on Friday at a rally in Alabama.
"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."