Seventh-round NFL draft pick Pat Tillman wasted no time in setting records for tackles on the football field for the Arizona Cardinals. But in the Spring of 2002, after marrying his childhood sweetheart, Tillman walked away from his multi-million-dollar NFL salary and joined the Army with his brother.
Tillman's departure from the NFL was widely publicized, as was his death on the battlefield of Afghanistan in 2004. The Pentagon, President George W. Bush, and what seemed like all of America, celebrated Tillman's heroic death. However, Tillman's death was not heroic by any means. He was shot and killed by his fellow U.S. soldiers. But once the deception about his story was propagandized, little could be done to undo how the military and the White House had capitalized on his death.
In 2006, The Guardian published a story, titled, "The footballer who became a war hero who became a scandal," in which author Lawrence Donegan revealed the dastardly actions the government took to rewrite Tillman's history. Donegan described how all was going well for the Bush Administration's "War on Terror" when Tillman decided to enlist. He wrote:
"For the Bush administration, recently embarked on its 'war on terror,' Tillman's story was an enormous PR boost. Professional athlete eschews fortune for patriotic duty—not even a White House well versed in spinning self-serving propaganda could have dreamed up such a perfect recruitment story. Tillman finished his basic training in time to be sent to Iraq as part of the US invasion force, before he was sent to Afghanistan in early 2004."