View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Friday, April 23, 2004

Pat Tillman 

Mangled Cat, Jared, and Ben all have thoughts on the death of Pat Tillman. Personally, I fall somewhere in-between. The Cat is right that Tillman's death, as man, shouldn't matter any more than any other soldier's. He's also right that when you're in combat, that soft bed at home looks mighty good, just as good as any NFL locker room, certainly better than training camp.

The reason we think about Tillman more than the other guys, is that we know some of his story, and we knew it before he went. Celebrity, for all its shallowness, carries with it a certain measure of undeserved familiarity. No, it's not fair, but that's life.

Remember Michael Kelly? Sure you do. I felt the same way then. Not a family member, but a regular guest just the same. I remember that empty feeling, knowing that I'd never read another original word by the man. Sports is, for most of us, a largely trivial pursuit. But it's what we knew about Pat Tillman. Just as writing was what we knew about Michael Kelly. So we point to the money he left on the table and the wife he left behind and the publicity he shunned because that's what we know. If we knew that he'd studied figure-skating under the Elder, we'd mention that, too.

When he left, everyone noticed. Then we all, I suspect, just forgot about him. Sometimes the story is so noble, you just need it to have a happy ending. And it stinks when it doesn't happen that way.

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