The Meeting That Never Was: Pat Tillman and Noam

”I don’t believe it,” seethed Ann Coulter.

Her contempt was directed at a September 25 San Francisco Chronicle story reporting that former NFL star and Army Ranger war hero Pat Tillman, who was killed in Afghanistan last year, believed the US war on Iraq was “f***ing illegal” and counted Noam Chomsky among his favorite authors. It must have been quite a moment for Coulter, who upon Tillman’s death described him in her inimitably creepy fashion as “an American original—virtuous, pure and masculine like only an American male can be.” She tried to discredit the story as San Francisco agitprop, but this approach ran into a slight problem: The article’s source was Pat Tillman’s mother, Mary.

Mary and the Tillman family are relentlessly pushing for answers to the questions surrounding Pat’s death in Afghanistan. They want to know why it took the Pentagon five weeks to tell them he died in a tragic case of friendly fire. They want to know why they were unwitting props at Pat’s funeral, weeping while lies were told by eulogizing politicians. Mary is now hoping that a new Pentagon inquiry will bring closure. ”There have been so many discrepancies so far that it’s hard to know what to believe,” she said to the Chronicle. “There are too many murky details.”

The very private Tillmans have revealed a picture of Pat profoundly at odds with the GI Joe image created by Pentagon spinmeisters and their media stenographers. As the Chronicle put it, family and friends are now unveiling “a side of Pat Tillman not widely known—a fiercely independent thinker who enlisted, fought and died in service to his country yet was critical of President Bush and opposed the war in Iraq, where he served a tour of duty. He was an avid reader whose interests ranged from history books...to works of leftist Noam Chomsky, a favorite author.” Tillman had very unembedded feelings about the Iraq War. His close friend Army Spec. Russell Baer remembered, “I can see it like a movie screen. We were outside of [an Iraqi city] watching as bombs were dropping on the town.... We were talking. And Pat said,

Dave Zirin is the author of the book: "Welcome to the Terrordome: The Pain, Politics and Promise of Sports" (Haymarket). You can receive his column Edge of Sports, every week by going to dave@edgeofsports.com.
Become an Edge of Sports Sustainer (Click Here)


Contact him at edgeofsports@gmail.com