About the Steve O Zone

Monday, June 16, 2008

The O Zone...


Yours truly has been very fortunate to have had the sheer pleasure of meeting and befriending people from all walks of life. It is with what I present, The-Not-So-Fab-5. It's quite simply 4 of my close friends whom I've summoned together.

Our goal is to share our insights with you on a myriad of topics. So from time to time, I'll throw out a topic, gather the thoughts of The-Not-So-Fab-5 and share them with you.

Before I get to today's topic, some brief intros are in order. So with all due respect to Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, et al... I give you The-Not-So-Fab-5.

First up is MQ, AKA Mark Quinlan, my trusty confidante/Eagle watcher, lo these past 20+ years.

Then we have Team Haberle, whom you've met before --- most recently when TH displayed his Equine prowess by astutely predicting why Big Brown would fail in his quest for infamy.

Next up is Rich Romig, who is a Libra who enjoys lattes and bubble baths. No... RR is my personal bhagwan; a man who knows all there is to know about all there is to know. He knows almost as much as...

...Isaac Segal. Jeopardy-champion, Bush-wacker and all-around massively intelligent homo sapien.

Lastly of course, you have myself, whom you know, love and/or loathe.

So, with that verbose intro out of the way, I give you the very first The-Not-So-Fab-5.

Today's Topic:

"The NFL's Tillman Offense"
Mary Tillman is petitioning the NFL to help her find out what really happened to her son, Pat. To date, the league has not offered to help.

In the words of one America's greatest, albeit fake, military commanders, Lt. Colonel Henry Blake, "There are certain rules about a war and rule number one is young men die." Unquestionably Pat Tillman is an American hero of the highest order and I, as all Americans, mourn his death. I cannot imagine the heartbreak of Mrs. Tillman and the Tillman family but to claim the NFL is exploiting their son's death is, in my opinion, wrong. The circumstances of Tillman's death whether at the hands of the enemy or by friendly fire do not diminish his life or death by any means whatsoever. The statues, the retiring of his number, the eulogies all of that should be a celebration of his life, not his death. Pat Tillman was a casualty of war. See Henry's Rule #1 above. The Tillman family has a right, God knows, to be angry about the death of their son but the NFL should not be held responsible for granting them closure. I wish them the peace they seek.

I feel badly for Tillman family and admire their persistent quest for the truth. However, realistically, I don't see the NFL getting involved. They don't take care of their former players with injuries (e.g., Conrad Dobler) who are still alive. Players are chattel to the NFL (much like soldiers are to the Army). And, believe it or not, even though the NFL is a major business entity, the league (and the individual teams) are run like small businesses (i.e., on a shoe string with a very small support staff). Now, having said all this, I really believe the Cardinals, whose ineptitude in almost all facets of the game is legendary should be the ones to step up and lead the fight on this (if for no other reason than to generate some very badly needed positive P.R.)

To me, it's interesting that this story is like the inflection point between 2 areas that the US armed forces and the NFL practically own and exploit to their advantage: The Warrior Mentality and Manufactured Reality. Kudos to Pat's mom for keeping the pressure up, but don't expect much from either monolithic body. The truth is ever-shifting, like the winds in the hills of Tora Bora. She's a lot like Cindy Sheehan camped out on George W. Bush's ranch two years ago -- probably won't amount to much, but I give her credit.

In some ways, the NFL not giving the Tillman saga their best investigative effort -- or blatantly turning a blind eye -- is strikingly similar to how poorly the league treats its retirees...the Earl Campbells and Bo Jacksons of the world who made beaucoup bucks for them and are struggling just to walk now. They're both examples of "out of sight, out of mind." You would think a league built on the backs of talented players would treat them like family all the way down the line, but it seems that most of the progress made in getting health benefits for ex-players has been due to the efforts of other ex-players -- not owners, not Tagliabue or Goodell.

Maybe if Tillman's mom enlists a few high-profile guys who played with Pat, their shared voices will be heard more loudly.

What may be the most disgusting aspect of this story is how long it's been out there without any coverage or follow up in the mainstream media--who earlier fell all over themselves covering Pat Tillman when he enlisted, and when the first fabricated accounts of his death came out. As soon as the story had any potential to refute the party line, it fell off the radar.

It's hard enough to lose a son and brother the way the Tillman family did. But to then be lied to by your own government about the facts of his death is beyond imagining. Unfortunately, the failure of the press to cover this story is far from the only example of their greater failure to stand up to the White House and their corporate masters over the past two decades. Imagine if just a fraction of the coverage given to mindless crap like Anna Nicole Smith and Lindsay Lohan had been devoted to presenting the Tillman family's story.

The NFL is just as complicit. If anything, their betrayal of Pat Tillman is even more unforgivable. I wouldn't expect the owners or Gene Upshaw to take any action that might slow down the NFL money machines, but you'd expect at least, but you would hope that at least one or two of them might have spoken out.

You would, however be wrong.

As a once (very) reluctant draftee who came to appreciate many things about the service, I think I understand why Tillman would leave fame and fortune behind. What I can't understand is why it has proven so hard to honor his sacrifice simply by speaking the truth.

There so many things wrong with this entire situation, from the six investigations and two congressional hearings to the way the NFL itself exploited Pat Tillman's death.

But of course the most egregious thing is the fact that you have a mother who is simply try get a measure of peace in her life by asking the same question ANY parent would given the same situation: How did my son die?

Unfortunately from the government's perspective, it's yesterday's news and from the league's... well, they don't need to talk about this anymore. They've squeezed as much as they can out of it and since Pat Tillman -- dead or alive -- is not making them any more money, then why bother talking about him?

Mary Tillman herself put it best:

"Pat would have gone through a wall to find out the truth. So, it's the least I can do and the least any one of us can do is to find out how he died."

Godspeed Mary Tillman.

'Til next time.


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