Rory Fanning, a former army ranger who served alongside ex-NFL player Pat Tillman, told CNN Wednesday he "would be shocked if Pat Tillman wasn't out there taking a knee with these players."
Tillman, a former safety for the Arizona Cardinals, enlisted in the army shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack, but was killed in 2004 near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border by friendly fire. Since his death, Tillman’s image has often been used as a political tool to demand respect for the national anthem and the military.
On Sunday, President Donald Trump, who has criticized NFL players and owners for taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem, shared a tweet using Tillman's heroics as reason to stand for the National Anthem and boycott the NFL.
Tillman's widow, Marie Tillman, responded to President Trump on Tuesday, asking for Pat's service to "never be politicized."
"It is my hope that his memory should always remind people that we must come together," Tillman said to CNN. "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."
Fanning echoed Marie Tillman's statements, saying Pat Tillman would "err on the side of Colin Kaepernick."
"I think [Tillman] would have a lot more in common with people like Michael Bennett and Colin Kaepernick than [he does] the people who stand on the sidelines and jeer and try to repress their dissent," Fanning said. "So I'd be shocked if Pat Tillman wasn't out there taking a knee with these players because Pat cared about people who were exploited, people who were oppressed."