Debate Rages 10 Years After Friendly Fire Tragedy In Afghanistan

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Does Pat Tillman’s ultimate sacrifice merit a bust alongside the legends of the National Football League?

It’s not a new debate. But high-profile voices are again taking sides with Tuesday marking the 10th anniversary of his tragic death in Afghanistan.

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Tillman was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in 1998, turned down a lucrative three-year deal in 2002 to join the Army Rangers, and was killed by friendly fire on April 22, 2004. He was 27.

NFL analyst Cris Collinsworth, a three-time Pro Bowler with the Cincinnati Bengals, has been one of the strongest supporters of Tillman making it to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Well-known NFL writer Peter King disagrees, writing in Monday’s weekly column for The MMQB that players, coaches and execs should only be considered for enshrinement based upon their accomplishments in the league.

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“Collinsworth and I have discussed this. He remains unconvinced by my argument, which is this: Should all 26 NFL players who have died in service to our country—either in World War I, Vietnam or Afghanistan—be enshrined in Canton?” King wrote. “Is one NFL player’s service worth more than others’? Should every player who served in wartime be enshrined, or put in a wing of the Hall of Fame?”

Tillman’s jersey number was posthumously retired by the Cardinals (40) and Arizona State (42). He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2010.

A statue also stands in his honor outside the Cardinals’ University of Phoenix Stadium.

“What does that have to do with NFL greatness?” wrote columnist Gregg Doyel. “Nothing, I suppose. Or everything. Pat Tillman was an NFL player. And Pat Tillman was greatness. … The question is not: Should Pat Tillman be in the Hall? It’s this: Why the hell isn’t he in there already?”

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