Pat Tillman

Nathan Hague: There have been athletes who belong in this (hero) category, guys like Pat Tillman, who left his post as a defensive back for the Arizona Cardinals and walked away from millions to serve. He is a true hero. Tillman joined the Army Rangers and served several tours in combat before he was killed in the mountains of Afghanistan. 

US Army/Photo

Remember the cartoon Pro Stars? It lasted only one season in 1991 and featured Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky and Bo Jackson using their athletic ability to fight crime.

As a kid, it was easy to look at these guys as super heroes like the cartoon portrayed. Seeing Jordan soar through the air for the dunk made me believe he could fly. Gretzky had to be a super hero with the nickname, “The Great One” and how can you argue against a guy like Jackson, a professional baseball and football player at the same time, being a super hero? Have you not seen the way he broke a bat over his head or ran up the outfield wall so effortlessly? If not, YouTube it.

Truth is though, as impressive and heroic as those athletes were in their sports, they’re not super heroes. The trials and tribulations they faced in their athletic careers don’t even put a candle to what our men and women in uniform go through in order to protect and serve this great nation.

A bomb doesn’t mean a home run or a long pass. A battle in the trenches doesn’t refer to the offensive vs. defensive line. These are terms we’ve taken from war and applied to sports.

Guys like Roger Staubach, Ted Williams, Arnold Palmer, Rocky Marciano, Roberto Clemente, Jackie Robinson, Joe DiMaggio, Willy Mays and many, many others put their military duties above their athletic careers. Those guys are heroes for what they did on the battlefield, not the football or baseball field. There have been athletes who belong in this category, guys like Pat Tillman, who left his post as a defensive back for the Arizona Cardinals and walked away from millions to serve. He is a true hero.

There are so many others like him throughout history who are worthy of mention, whose heroic acts we remember this Memorial Day weekend, a weekend in which honor those who have had real bombs thrown at them and have had to face real battle in the trenches. We remember those who have sacrificed everything to keep us safe, and many of whom, in the process, paid the ultimate sacrifice with their lives. They are the true heroes, whether or not they ever picked up a ball or played sports of any kind, and yes, they are much bigger heroes than the Pro Stars.

There’s no way to properly thank those who have served, and especially those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice by laying down their lives for their friends, family and country. That’s what we remember this weekend. Monday isn’t a free day off. It’s already been paid for by these men and women. To those who have lost loved ones fighting for our freedom, I can only say I’m sorry for your loss but please know, it was not done in vain and their sacrifices will not be forgotten. I also want to thank you because you paid a massive price I can’t even imagine. You are not alone in remembering what they have done. We are forever in a great debt. We should remember them, not just this weekend, but every day.

Happy Memorial Day.

TWITTER: @PhilHicksETFS

Sports Editor

I am a native Tylerite and I grew up reading the Tyler Morning Telegraph and The Tyler Courier-Times. My parents took both the morning and afternoon papers. I came to work here 35 years ago at the age of 23, right after college.

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