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NFL's way of honoring Tillman falls short

The owners of the National Football League began their spring meetings on Tuesday in Orlando, Fla.

After the first day of meetings, the league has decided they will honor former Cardinal Pat Tillman in the upcoming 2004 season.

The Arizona Cardinals have already renamed the plaza surrounding Sun Devil Stadium in Tillman's honor.

Starting in 2004, fans will cross Pat Tillman Freedom Plaza as they enter the stadium.

It's great the NFL wants to do something to remember the fallen Tillman.

But what about the 799 Americans, 59 Britons, 18 Italians, 11 Spaniards, six Bulgarians, six Ukrainians, four Poles, two Thais, one Dane, one Dutch, one Estonian and one Salvadoran?

Does Tillman deserve more recognition than any of those other fallen soldiers?

Tillman never wanted to be recognized for his choice.

He declined countless interviews because he didn't want to be different than those he served with.

He proudly served the United States in the U.S.

Army Rangers until he was killed in battle on April 23, 2004, in the mountains of Afghanistan.

Tillman does deserve to be honored.

He turned down a life of fame and fortune to serve the country he loved.

So why in his death should we treat him how he didn't want to be treated in life?

In a previous column about Tillman, I asked for Daily Miner readers to provide suggestions of how Tillman should be honored.

My inbox was filled with a whopping response of one e-mail.

Kingman resident Fay Walter suggested the possibility of retiring Tillman's ASU or Cardinal jersey, or having the Cardinals or all the NFL teams wear something on their jerseys.

Apparently the NFL is looking at the possibility of having all players wear a decal of Tillman's No.

40 on their helmets.

I would like to suggest a way to remember not only Tillman but also the other American soldiers killed.

Eight hundred American soldiers were killed as of Tuesday, May 25, 2004.

There are 32 teams in the National Football League and 31 stadiums.

Let's have the ground crews from each of the stadiums paint one of the 40-yard lines, in honor of Tillman, in blue paint instead of white.

And in the blue paint, have 25 stars painted in red.

The NFL could even go as far as to put the name of a fallen soldier inside each star.

If all 32 teams did this, the Meadowlands would have to do both 40-yard lines for the Jets and the Giants, all 800 men and women would be honored by the NFL.

Every Sunday, football fans watching their favorite teams would recognize those who have given their lives.

Even non-football fans would ask what the paint and stars meant, and imagine how proudly we could say it represents everyone who has given their life for this country.

I never met Pat Tillman, but I think this is something he would want.

Brent Hinckley is the Daily Miner's sports writer.

He can be reached by e-mail at bhinckley@kingmandailyminer.com.