Like many of you, I watched the Super Bowl on Sunday. I’m not a diehard football fan. The last time I was invested in the sport was decades ago, when the Chicago Bears, my hometown team, played well. Yes, I’m that old.
I only watched football this season after the January trauma that took Damar Hamlin to the brink of death. The first game after his cardiac arrest was spectacular, from kickoff. Each game that followed became less so.
I just edited out four paragraphs of me talking football. You are welcome.
The team that eliminated the Bills was the Bengals. My interest in the Bengals next game was to see if they would advance to the Super Bowl. They did not. I think the referees were blatantly biased in favor of the Chiefs. Perhaps their bosses, executives in the NFL, wanted the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl. That, my friends, is not an unimaginable possibility in this world where “the man” pulls all the strings. There is no fun in watching a game that has a predetermined outcome.
On Sunday, my elderly mother told me what time the Super Bowl was going to air. Dropping my head to my chest, and my hands to my knees, I exhaled dramatically and cried, “I wish I cared!” Then I stood up and said, “I’m not watching.”
When game time rolled around, my daughter joined my mother and me on our twenty-year-old sofa. Three generations of women who feigned no interest watched the game. We cheered for Philadelphia, to stick it to the man.
Mental apathy is a tool I use to get through each day. When I die, my tombstone will say, “She had no fucks to give.” And also “I told you I was sick.”
Watching the game, two things made my skin crawl.
The NFL has teamed up with the U.S. Armed Forces, every Super Bowl for twenty years, to exploit a dead man. Pat Tillman is their military recruitment tool.
Before the game, there was a video interview of Tillman in which he explained how he felt after 9/11. (Every football player on that Arizona team made a similar video.) Then a narrator told Tillman’s story. Violin music set the mood, and slow motion footage of him playing football added to the effect. It ended with a photo of him in his military uniform and the carefully worded spin of his death: “he ultimately lost his life in the line of duty.”
A commentator introduced the beneficiaries of “The Pat Tillman Scholarships,” selected by the NFL. Following that, the fighter jet flyover, then the coin toss and the game commenced. It was theater at its most predictable.
For those who don’t remember, Pat Tillman was a 25-year-old NBA football player with a multi-million dollar contract. He and his brother, Kevin, a minor league baseball player, quit their dream jobs to enlist. They wanted to fight the Taliban. That was six months after 9/11.
Tillman’s enlistment was a marketing gift, just what George W Bush needed to shine a positive light on his “war on terror” They used Tillman’s name and popularity to their advantage.
Tillman’s military story was romanticized, much like that of Jessica Lynch. She was the wounded soldier who sat in wait for days in an Iraqi hospital for the military to set up a camera crew and stage a dramatic middle of the night rescue. Lynch later dispelled the military’s version of her experience. She had not been in a shootout with enemy forces, then taken prisoner after her ammunition ran out. She was not tortured. She had been knocked unconscious after her vehicle crashed and couldn’t remember the details of what had happened to her. The staff at the Iraqi hospital did not mistreated her, and they put up no resistance to her rescue.
Tillman was sent to Iraq for his first tour of duty, and it didn’t take him long to see the war for what it was. He became an increasingly vocal critic, telling a friend the invasion of Iraq was “so fucking illegal.”
Despite his disillusionment, he declined an opportunity to cut short his time in the military, and returned to fulfill his commitment, a second tour of duty. This time, they sent him to Afghanistan.
Tillman was a free thinking liberal, and an atheist. His views didn’t coincide with the narrative the government had been pushing. He had plans to speak out, arranging a meeting with anti-war critic, Noam Chomsky, upon his return from Afghanistan in 2004. They never met. Pat Tillman died in Afghanistan.
His family and the media were told he had been shot by the Taliban, died heroically in combat. That story was embellished and spread across the globe by the media.
It was a lie.
Tillman had made his wishes clear to his family and friends. If he died, he did not want to become a poster boy for the Iraq war, to be used as patriotic propaganda.
Military officials tried to coerce his wife to agree to a ceremonial military burial. Unbeknownst to them, Tillman had sent her a copy of his signed military enlistment form that stated his wishes. He did not want a military funeral.
Five days after Tillman’s death, his family learned the truth. He had been shot three times in the head, killed by friendly fire. Anything that forensic scientists could have used to determine his cause of death, his uniform, diary, and other possessions, had been burned. They ordered all witnesses to remain silent on the subject. His death was a cover up that went all the way up the chain of command to Donald Rumsfeld. Bush had to have known as well.
The Bush wars resulted in the deaths of over 850,000 people.
Despite Tillman’s wishes, the NFL and Military continue to use him in death as in life as a military recruitment accessory.
The Tillman Story https://g.co/kgs/xm5ysk
The Tillman family participated in a documentary telling their side of “The Pat Tillman Story.”
Who is pushing Jesus during the Super Bowl?
There were two Super Bowl commercials for Jesus. “He gets us.” Despite the positive message in these ads, I wonder what the reaction would have been if Muhammad had been the religious figure named.
What was the goal of these ads?
Damage control. Christianity has become associated with hate groups. The purpose of the ads was to improve public perception.
Who was behind these ads?
A Google search led me to “Servant Foundation.” It’s a Kansas-based non-profit that has donated more than $50 million to the “Alliance Defending Freedom,” a non-profit known for fighting abortion rights and non-discrimination laws. The ADF is listed as an anti-LGBTQ hate group, supporting criminalizing homosexuality and imprisoning LGBTQ individuals for engaging in consensual sex. Hobby Lobby founder and ADF member, billionaire David Green, was one of the biggest donors who funded the ads. Hobby Lobby uses religious objections to exclude birth control from health insurance coverage for their more 60 million workers.
Realizing where the financing came from invalidates any warm fuzzys the ad granted Christianity. The message of love, acceptance and anti-violence was beautiful, but the messenger was misrepresenting himself. Organized religion is not what it claims to be. The man taints everything.
One thought on “The NBA, Pat Tillman, and Jesus”
Jesus may get us, but an awful lot of the “us” in the Hobby Lobby crowd doesn’t get Jesus. The parallel with Mr. Tillman’s representation is rather dramatic.
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