The ‘Torturous’ 2014 Draft

Ten years after his passing, Pat Tillman's memory is still honored by NFL fans across the league. (David Banks/Getty Images)
Ten years after Pat Tillman’s passing, his memory is still honored by NFL fans across the league. (David Banks/Getty Images)

Remembering Pat Tillman … and his case for Canton

As America celebrates the 118th running of the Boston Marathon today—and the renewal of life a year after the terrorist attack there killed three and wounded 264—we also should remember that Tuesday is the 10-year anniversary of the death by friendly fire of Army Ranger Pat Tillman in Afghanistan.

GALLERY: Remembering Pat Tillman on the 10-year anniversary of his death

Tillman is a unique player, and man, in recent NFL history. The only time I ever spoke with him was an hour or so before a Cardinals practice in 1998, in Tempe, Ariz. Tillman was a rookie safety, drafted in the seventh round from Arizona State to the team that was just a couple of miles from where he went to college. And he showed up for work that day—and for our interview—riding a 10-speed bike. That’s the only player I ever interviewed who arrived on a bike. The rest of the story is incredible, and incredibly sad. After 9/11, he chose to give up a potentially lucrative free-agent contract to join the Army and suit up to defend his country in Afghanistan. And while on duty April 22, 2004, Tillman was shot three times in the head by one or more of his countrymen. The circumstances around the death, which took place in a firefight with enemy forces near the Pakistan border in eastern Afghanistan, remain a mystery.

However he died, Tillman was a hero to millions in the country for sacrificing his NFL career to serve in the military, and that legend only grew when he died. He is one the most memorable, and admirable, figures of our time. It would be just to take a moment tomorrow to remember Tillman and his service and his sacrifice.

Now, I hadn’t thought of the Hall of Fame part of it in several years, until Cris Collinsworth tweeted this on Sunday, after ESPN ran a tribute to Tillman:

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 II, Vietnam or Afghanistan—be enshrined in Canton? 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? For instance, quarterback Eddie LeBaron was twice wounded in the Korean War, earned a Purple Heart, and came back to play in the NFL; he’s not in the Hall—should he be? And what about others who played football and went on to great things? Byron “Whizzer” White, a running back in the NFL, went on to be a Supreme Court justice. Jack Kemp quarterbacked the Bills, then became a nine-term Congressman and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Should they be in?

I think football players and coaches and executives should be in the Hall of Fame for what they accomplish as football players and coaches and executives, and not for anything else.

There is, by the way, a large area of the Hall devoted to NFL men who have served, including a big display for Tillman. I highly recommend seeing it when you visit Canton and see the vastly improved Hall.

Quotes of the Week

I

“I don’t see how people can say some of the things that they say when you have a guy that rushed for almost 1,100 yards with a torn meniscus. But a player like myself, that’s accomplished so much in my career, it’s always great to have things to put a chip on your shoulder, to have things to motivate you. I think I can turn a bad thing, [with] what people are saying, into a good thing. For me, that gives me motivation, keeps me hungry and keeps a chip on my shoulder to prove those naysayers wrong, because no matter how good you are, no matter what things you do—I could have rushed for 1,500-1,600 yards last year for the Titans and if we didn’t make it to the playoffs, or we didn’t win games, there would still be things that would be said.’’

—New Jets running back Chris Johnson, on the criticism he heard last year, when he averaged a paltry 3.9 yards per rush while playing hurt for part of the season.

II

“His father treated him a little bit differently than he treated us. The abused don’t always have to become abusers. Children of alcoholics don’t have to produce dysfunctional families. And children who grew up poor don’t have to repeat that cycle.”

—Lions coach Jim Caldwell, via the Detroit News, speaking to inner-city high school students in Detroit on Wednesday. Caldwell’s father, the coach said, went to work at age 9, was kicked out of his home at 13, and went on to work for General Motors for 35 years. His message, in part, was to read a lot, and make do with what you have. He told a story about making a kite out of paper and fishing line for a Cub Scout competition—and the kite flew higher than everyone else’s.

III

“I’m going to give it a heavy shot. I would love to do it, and if I can do it, I’m keeping it in Buffalo.”

—Donald Trump, who says he will make an effort to buy the Buffalo Bills, to the Buffalo News. 

IV

“I really just should have coached the team, but he [owner Randy Lerner] didn’t want me to.”

—Former Browns president Mike Holmgren to me last week, on whether he had any regrets about his years in Cleveland.

V

“If I find a heaven after this life, I’ll be quite surprised. In my own years on this planet, though, I lived in hell for the first 49 years, and have been in heaven for the past 28 years. To live in a world where truth matters and justice, however late, really happens, that world would be heaven enough for us all.’’

—The last public words of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, the former middleweight boxer and convicted-murderer-turned-wrongly-accused-cause-celebre, in a column he wrote for the New York Daily News two months ago when he was dying of prostate cancer. Carter succumbed Sunday in Toronto.  

The New York Times wrote an excellent, thorough obit of Carter.

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215 comments
Shane Mac
Shane Mac

Peter:  As for your Stat Of The Week segment - You can take any team who, in the last 14 years, have had a draft where there were 4 instances of failing to take a better player than the one they drafted.  That the Raiders picked 4 QBs who eventually tanked, the only one that honestly stands out is JaMarcus Russell in 2007.  You do know how many other teams would have taken Russell had the Raiders declined.  That you selected a high second round (#59) and two high 3rd round choices (#69 & #78) to round out your argument is ludicrous.  The high failure rate of Raider management in the last 14 years is indeed true but your example of it was a real reach.

HermanRipps
HermanRipps

U sports gru's don't know any more than the rest of us. Come draft day things change at the blink of an eye. Coach may have his mind made up and name on card, and last second call from owner over rides coaches choice. Draft day this year will be dramatic.

rskins09
rskins09

Know Tommy Prothro (former SD head coach )  used to call around the  league before the draft and would always ask  " does he want to play " ..Hear the the Charger's  had a big party after the Draft when Kellen Winslow, Sr.  was still on the board .. 1979  13the pick ..  1st player picked  was Tom Cousineau  Bills who ended up playing in Canada ,then NFL ..

gary41
gary41

There are people in football who are very good at evaluating talent.  It is the first job of any organization to find those people.  Evaluating talent does not mean collecting information and making lists. 

Wisconsin Death Trip
Wisconsin Death Trip

The NFL draft is now waterboarding? "Torturous" is now being used in other scenarios these days....just let it play out Mr. King, you'll be fine. Have a beer... 

RemytheGrizzly
RemytheGrizzly

The Texans obviously need a QB, so that will be their first pick.  Jaguars will take a pass rusher simply because they don't have one.  As for the Steelers, they either need a cornerback or wide receiver.

TimPappas
TimPappas

when i say the "sports reporters" the first thing that came to mind was Sizzlers must be closed

gary41
gary41

2011 was a remarkably weak group, with several selected not even on some draft lists.  It is no mistake that the worst teams draft first, yet have difficulty making intelligent decisions.  Certainly it helps to do your homework throughout the year in areas of known weakness.  Of course college QB's have zits--this is another statement of the obvious.  The QB position is special and deserves special full time consideration, for all teams, whether they are lined up by need to draft in the first several rounds or later.  Some teams consistently draft a QB in later rounds for a reason.  Those who can't make a QB decision this year should be on the sidelines.   

DolFanAllen
DolFanAllen

This is why coaches and GMs get fired.  They know they need a QB first and foremost to win in the NFL and then do the 2 step around the obvious.  Seven of the top 10 teams picking in the draft all suffer from Bad QB play.  Thus, they're drafting at the top of the draft.  If they continue to ignore the obvious, they'll be drafting in the same spots again next year.  INSANITY.


Teddy Bridgewater should be the #1 overall pick.  He was pretty much rated the top QB in the class by most going into his Pro Day.  The talk that his stock has slid due to his Pro Day is ridiculous. If a GM or Coach is allowing a meaningless Pro Day to override what's on tape, both of them need to be fired.  I'm finding it hard to actually believe that a team would actually do something that amateur.  We'll see on May 8th.

MelchiorMelchior
MelchiorMelchior

The Vikings need a dependable running back also.  Yeah, I said it.

RalphTheGardener
RalphTheGardener

The only reason that Russell Wilson got to play was because Flynn developed tennis elbow during camp. Same with Foles when Vick kept getting injured. The last thing the Vikings need after Ponder is a Bridgewater.

Mike N
Mike N

Other than Newton and Kaepernick, those other QB's on the list above are busts!

JohnnyNacho
JohnnyNacho

In today's NFL the top pick should likely be Quarterback, Pass Rush or 5 Star Offensive Lineman.  Although Mack seems to be a very good player you just won't get value w/ the top overall pick on a linebacker.

VIPOD4ever
VIPOD4ever

It's Raider Nation, not "Black Hole People" !  (sounds very patronizing and border line racists)


Secondly, the Manziel link to Oakland is so yesterday. 


Reggie will pick from these 4 depending on who remains when #5 is on the clock:


Clowney,Watkins,Mack or Robinson.







2656wdb
2656wdb

Peyton was recently (last couple of weeks or so) in the Oklahoma football facilities.  It would be interesting to know if Gase was also there.

Aussie TEK
Aussie TEK

Clowney shouldn't be first pick.  His work ethic should cost him being picked first.  Plus Texans need offensive help.  They should pick Watkins first and get QB and RB later rounds.  Lack up RB depth last year cost them many games.  

Ciscos
Ciscos

I've been saying since the season ended, Jadeveon Clowney isn't a lock at the first pick. Smart money says in the end, he probably will be, but that's not a given. That's the quandary Bill O'Brien has. Does he draft a QB? I'm not excited about any of this years crop of picks. All of them are picks and sits. I don't expect any, with the exception of Bortles or Manziel to come in and be the face of the franchise - and that's only by default because neither Cleveland nor the Jags have a QB that gets anyone excited. That leaves Clowney.

Clowney has all the physical tools. But so did Mario Williams (minus the 40 speed). To Mario's benefit, his coach never tossed him under the bus about his work ethic. Spurrier tossed Clowney and so have several analysts.  Having your work ethic questioned is as bad as it can get for a first round pick. A questionable work ethic denotes elements of being lazy. Maybe Clowney was bored in college. But that's on him. He should have found ways to motivate himself week in and week out. Maybe Clowney didn't want to get hurt. Then he was playing in fear. That's not a selling point either.


I almost feel bad for Bill O'Brien. Draft Clowney and the boo birds will go crazy if the negative points about him hold true. Pass him up and deal with the consequences of him being one of the most dominating players of the oncoming decade. Predictions are a mother. 


I think Bill either trades down and avoids the heat, or bows into the pressure and takes Clowney.

gbgentleman
gbgentleman

Good news: The coffee’s better. Bad news: It’s not 40 cents anymore."

eh...I buy quality coffee beans online, grind them myself, use half and half and still pay less than 40 cent per cup.

Gabriel Perez
Gabriel Perez

I think you should check out Turn on AMC.  I am still worried about what the Cowboys will do during the Draft.  It will be a move, but whatever decision Jerry Jones makes, I hope it is worth with so many holes in Dallas.


GuyMontag
GuyMontag

"The circumstances around the death, which took place in a firefight with enemy forces near the Pakistan border in eastern Afghanistan, remain a mystery."


Not really.  Jon Krakauer in his book ,"Where Men Win Glory" (2010 revised paperback edition), described the friendly-fire incident and how Gen. McChrystal supervised the Pentagon's cover-up to use Tillman's death for propaganda (I would also recommend watching the DVD "The Tillman Story" and Mary Tillman's book "Boots on the Ground by Dusk").


However, what is a still a "mystery" is what I've called "The [Untold] Tillman Story" of the bipartisan whitewash of Gen. McChrystal (and others responsible) started by the Bush Administration and continued by the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress (for details, see the Feral Firefighter blog posts "Defend Your Integrity" and "Something to Die For").

JayReardon
JayReardon

How Tillman got killed is a mystery?  Now that is a mysterious statement.  The second, third and fourth investigations -- forced by the Tillman family in the face of the Bush/McChrystal cover up -- ascertained that friendly fire killed him in a typical military ClusterF***.

Stuartaeye
Stuartaeye

Speaking as a former Starbucks Assistant Manager, the Starbucks at BWI is most likely a franchise and Starbucks won't do much about it. 

DanTanna86
DanTanna86

Haha. More fake "sources" just to get a blog out.

Freethot
Freethot

A "Friend of Rick Smith" is referred to as FORS?  Seriously?  Would that make a family member of Rick Smith to be FORS KIN?  .. just sayin'

RogerPaul
RogerPaul

aren't you on the wrong thread ,guillaume?


guillaume.bdamour
guillaume.bdamour

Dear Mr King, Dear Americans,

You really need to open your eyes about your country, your army and the people that run it.

The way you talk about soldiers as ‘’heros’’ that ‘’protect your country’’ is absolutely mind boggling.

Is terrorism in decline because you went to Irak/Afghanistan?

Was the rebuilt successful in Irak/Afghanistan?

Was even Bin Laden caught in Irak/Afghanistan?

The answers to those questions are all a big NO. Al-Qaeda is present all around middle east and Africa, why only invade Irak and Afghanistan? The reason America sent a huge amount of troops to those places were never

‘’to protect’’ your country. It was all for oil and money, everybody outside the US knows it.

How do you treat those ‘’heros’’ after you give them a little medal and a standing ovation on opening day? You let the ones who have psychological problems die alone. 22 suicides a day in your military because of post-traumatic stress. Where’s the help your ‘’heros’’ need? Nowhere. Sorry, ‘’not enough money’’.

I’m sure Pat Tillman was a great man, but thinking about putting him in the Hall of fame is absolutely ridiculous. He wasn’t a ‘’hero protecting your country’’, he was a sacrificial lamb sent to ‘’war on terrorism’’ only to satisfy the insatiable thirst for money and power of your egomaniacal leaders.

Shame on you for putting your heads in the sand and calling it patriotism

el80ne
el80ne

@RemytheGrizzly Why wouldn't the Texans wait to the first pick of round two to pick a QB rather than take the high risk of drafting a bust while burning the first overall pick doing it? That makes no sense.

el80ne
el80ne

@DolFanAllen Do you know why pro days are used by scouts and personnel to judge a player? I'm not saying pro days should be the only thing used to scout a prospect, but considered along with the host of other evidence at their disposal like game tape. It's not unreasonable to downgrade a prospect for a poor pro day. It was his choice to not workout at the combine, if he did he could have given them more looks.

el80ne
el80ne

@RalphTheGardener That's not the only reason. Wilson completely outplayed Flynn in the preseason games, particularly the finale. Flynn developed the same 'sore arm' issue with the Raiders, leading to Terrelle Pryor starting the season for them. It wasn't a fluke.

Mike N
Mike N

@VIPOD4ever


Right because we all know Raider fans aren't racist, correct?

Shane Mac
Shane Mac

@Ciscos  Hey Johnny D:  I didn't realize Bill O'Brien was the Texas GM.

Mike N
Mike N

@Ciscos


Correctomundo!


If Clowney took plays off in college trying to impress the scouts, imagine how many more plays he'll take off when he gets a $20+MM guaranteed contract?

Mike N
Mike N

@gbgentleman


I'll bet you also take 1st dates thru the MickeyD's drive thru, no?

Ciscos
Ciscos

@Gabriel Perez The only decision Jerry Jones needs to make is when he needs to sign the checks. Last year I actually think he listened to his coaching staff and let them decide instead of him channeling his inner Al Davis and grabbing someone he likes instead of what they need.

Aussie TEK
Aussie TEK

@JayReardon  Friendly fire has killed many soldiers from all countries.  If Obama is investigating the Tillman death you will definately not get the truth.

el80ne
el80ne

@DanTanna86 King's not a talent evaluator/scout, but he is known for cultivating high placed sources on teams and providing legit info when he quotes them.

hayhowesq
hayhowesq

@DanTanna86  What makes you think he is faking sources? I doubt he would have risen to the top of his profession if he made up sources.

Shane Mac
Shane Mac

@guillaume.bdamour :  Pat Tillman became disillusioned - especially with our presence in Iraq.  He didn't see any reason with us being there once the initial assault was over.  It is hard to know if he felt he was being heroic when he took the tour in Afghanistan and probably would be most dismayed by whom his killers actually turned out to be and how his death was covered up and turned into an obscene display of "heroism".  The last thing he wanted to do was die

HermanRipps
HermanRipps

@guillaume.bdamour Some of what U say is correct, but the part about Pat Tillman is Bull S  T! Pat Tillman joined of his own free will and regardless of how he was killed in combat, he was killed in combat. He is looked at as a hero because he had it made with a nice contract to play pro football, and he turned it all down to extract a pound of flesh from your distant relatives for 911.

Your in America now which still allows you to say what you want, Relax take the Towel of your bald head, and enjoy your freedom.

el80ne
el80ne

@guillaume.bdamour Yeah like we really need you to lecture us about the mistake of Bush. FYI, most of us didn't vote him into office.

CarlEdwardJansen
CarlEdwardJansen

@guillaume.bdamour  Absolutely correct, you are more of a hero for stating these unpleasant facts than 99.999% of the military volunteers that went there. Thanks!

DolFanAllen
DolFanAllen

@el80ne @DolFanAllen  The Combine and Pro Days are irrelevant.  There are sooooo many players who had horrible showings at these events and went on to be Great players.  Tom Brady and Terelle TD Davis to name a few off the top of my head.  Kurt Warner wasn't invited to the combine and didn't have a pro day.  There are tons more where that came from.  

Shane Mac
Shane Mac

@HermanRipps :  Then you must have a poor job, eh Ripps?  Save your agenda for your next Tea Party tickle fest . 

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