Normally when Cris Collinsworth speaks I do the same thing as when I crap: flush it down the toilet and forget about it forever. I've never been a fan. However, during this NFL postseason he's been pitching an idea worth consideration:
Pat Tillman should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
It is ironic that some of Collinsworth's sentiments hit the news this week. Former NFLer Korey Stringer died during preseason conditioning in 2001. The NFL settled a lawsuit with Stringer's widow last week.
Tillman's story is well-documented. Laid back, thoughtful and existential Cali kid plays safety for ASU. He becomes an All-American on the gridiron and in the classroom (twice). Gets drafted by the Cardinals. Has some measure of success in the NFL. Leaves the NFL to join the Army Rangers at the beginning of the "War against Terror". Killed in action.
There is no question that Pat Tillman is an American hero and a role model for all. But should he be in the Hall of Fame?
I say no, but only because of the slippery slope it would create.
If you allow Tillman to be in the Hall of Fame what about Korey Stringer? What about Sean Taylor? What about Mike Utley? There are others that go on this list, but I'll just use these three for now.
Unlike Tillman, Stringer, Utley and Taylor probably would have gone into Canton had their playing days not been cut short. Tillman was a good pro, but not a Hall of Famer.
Sean Taylor was not a great community guy. Stringer, Utley and Tillman were great community guys and gave back a ton.
Unlike Taylor and Tillman, Utley and Stringer lost their ability to play while playing football.
You could go on and on making comparisons about this limited list of 4 guys, and the longer list of more former players, are similar and different.
In my humble opinion being inducted into the Hall of Fame is a symbol. While more public, in my mind it is no more symbolic or important than honoring or remembering a person through your hearts and actions.
Like every slippery slope, nobody ever remembers where and when the slope became so slippery. That's why I believe when a system is in place it normally does more harm than good to try and accommodate individuals or special circumstances.
I believe Pat Tillman's memory will live on in people's hearts for as long as they allow. Going to Canton doesn't change what Pat Tillman did or died for. With or without Canton, I hope that sports fans will continue to remember Pat Tillman and pass on his legacy of bravery and selflessness.