Before the Super Bowl between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles, the National Football League (NFL) engaged in a series of songs and tributes aimed at glorifying the U.S. military. This is business as usual for the NFL, and its long history of acting as a public relations (PR) outlet for the U.S. military is well-documented.
Ahead of this year’s coin toss, the NFL chose to highlight the history of former Arizona Cardinals safety Pat Tillman. This is especially outrageous because the league engaged in a revisionist history that obscures the actual history of what happened to this former player.
During the Super Bowl presentation, Tillman was portrayed in as an All-American football player who left the league and died in the line of duty defending American ideals of freedom and democracy.
The reality, however, is much more complicated. After 9/11, Tillman did forego a lucrative career in the NFL to enlist in the U.S. Army. However, after being deployed in Iraq, Tillman began to question the motives of the U.S. government and the role that the U.S. military was playing in Iraq.
Tillman got to a point where he was telling his fellow soldiers that he felt the war was unjust and illegal, and he had been exposing himself more to anti-war activists and anti-war intellectuals such as Noam Chomsky.
Shortly after making his views on the war more open, Tillman was killed in a mysterious friendly fire incident in 2004. After he died, the military reported that he had been killed in combat and covered up the truth about the incident for weeks.
It is disgusting how the NFL used Pat Tillman’s image. It is something that Tillman would’ve hated as he joined the military in what he felt was a selfless act at the time. Tillman was aware he could be used as a PR tool, telling friends that he hoped they didn’t parade him through the streets if he died in combat.
Instead, the NFL and the U.S. military have done exactly that. They have taken Tillman’s story and twisted it in service of their own interests to drum up nationalistic sentiments in the population. In reality, Tillman was against the war and died in a cover-up while fighting an unjust war.
We must know the real story and stand against these twisted lies that are told to glorify the military and imperialist ambitions of the U.S. government.