- 06/20/2011, 09:27AM ET
Grue said 06/20, 09:27 AM
Since Mr. Jolly is a comic book fan and [A] suggested a "change the past" topic, we thought it would be fun to play Throwdown Super Hero and save one amateur, active or retired athlete who died.
This was one of the toughest TD topic decisions I've faced. How do you counter-argument against deceased legends? How do you value one life over another?
Everything happens for a reason. Even painful and tragic losses can have unexpected benefits like Jim Valvano's V Foundation raising millions. If you take away a death of an iconic figure then you take away the positives that people perform in their memory.
But sometimes, that reason for death is very hard to see.
This story was supposed to have an happy ending. An athlete makes the ultimate sacrifice, does all of the right things, for all of the right reasons. Yet he is rewarded for his service by paying the ultimate price from friendly fire and military cover-ups.
Arizona Cardinal and Army Ranger CPL Pat Tillman would have been the perfect hero and spokesman for the Army and NFL upon his return from service.
November 6, 1976 ??? April 22, 2004
Mr. Jolly said 06/21, 12:34 AM
It would be a blessing and a curse to choose one athlete to create divine intervention.
So who do you look for?
* Someone who will maximize their 2nd chance at life. Someone who already showed that 6th sense to help others. A person with not just potential, but a history of influencing a generation, culture, or both.
Sounds like a hero, doesn't it?
It does, but not all heroes are the same. Some are more flawed then others. Some show us 1 side while a shadow to others.
I'm looking for somebody who didn't die from a flaw that most likely had several openings to solve, like drugs (Len Bias).
History would most likely be hurt more than helped if somebody's death brought more attention to something (Lou Gehrig or Dale Earnhardt).
While I have no reason not to pick those of tragic accidents (Thurman Munson), I think it has to be something that was in the heat of sacrifice.
See how it's a curse yet?
Tillman definitely sacrificed. He definitely put himself on the line for others. He also did something extraordinary.
And I knew you would pick him.
But in the next round, I'll share why I think....no....I KNOW the choice has to be:
Grue said 06/21, 09:26 AM
Always a pleasure since we think alike but see differently, Mr. Jolly.
I knew you would pick Clemtene; he was my second choice.
It is purly ethos and pathos to value the sacrifice of these men. I spent a night mulling them over and only one stuck with me in the morning.
Motivation for Sacrifice
Pat Tillman gave up millions of dollars and an NFL career to fight the terrorists that organized the September 11 attacks. He wanted to strike back at Bin Laden. It may be ethno-centric, but my heart leaned towards a sacrifice to defend the USA.
Roberto Clemente traveled during the offseason to Nicaragua to help earthquake victims. Clemente left to perform a humaitarian task but had every intention of returning to baseball.
Clemente's cause was noble, but the motivation for action was stronger for Tillman.
Facing Death in the - umm - Face
You'll probably cite the Fog of War. A soldier faces those risks. A soldier is trained to deliver death and accept it. While a passenger on a plane may fear the tragedy, it is unexpected.
I felt more injustice here that Tillman was killed by his own countrymen and not an accident.
I want to say much more!
Mr. Jolly said 06/22, 08:07 AM
A genie gives you 3 wishes...
We all hear this as a kid. Initially we come up with grand things that we want. Eventually we realize that you wish for unlimited wishes. With that thought, you're done with the fantasy and act as if you solved a riddle.
I hadn't thought about that until last night while pondering this TD.
The trick with the genie scenario isn't about the wishes. It's about responsibility that comes with power.
This question isn't about these 2 men. It's about the power we have in the selection.
It dawned on me that most people never wish anything for the greater good when discussing 3 wishes.
Both of these men meet the criteria for saving. But WE have the power and must make the responsible choice for the good of all.
Nothing says that once we save these men from their fate, that they won't die the next day. You discussed the harsh truth about survival in the military at times of action. By saving Tillman's life, you don't save him from his choice. It is far more likely that he gets fatally hurt in the near future then it is that Clemente dies in another accident.
We can't gamble with this choice. It has to be the safe bet. Which is Clemente.
Grue said 06/22, 10:05 AM
You wax poetically about 3 wishes but it's not relevant.
We give one man a 2nd chance. We can't imagine all probabilities. Black men have a shorter life expectancy and higher rate of heart disease than whites. Clemente was 38, Tillman was 27. Planes have a lower rate of accidents. Cars have better safety features and traffic fatalities/miles are lower in 2009 than 1954. We can't debate the "what ifs" of war and life.
3% of 200k troops have died in Iraq/Afg. As of 2009, only 0.78% of those deaths were by "Friendly" fire.
The Army contrived a heroic story to cover for the death of one of the highest-profile enlisted men in the Army; the war's poster child. Tillman's family has spent the years since 2004 attacking the politcal cover-up and inconsistencies in the Pentagon. Their lives have been a nightmare in search of the truth.
Tillman could have represented the NFL, the Army, the fight against Terrorism. He could have raised millions for charities by speaking, fund raising, and books. He could have inspired others to serve our country. So much potential wasted.
A few soldiers in Afghanistan didn't read that script. I'd rewrite it.
Great TD Jolly!
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