For a hot minute, Pat Tillman was the square-jawed mascot for Bush-era patriotism, and with good reason. At just shy of 6 feet and a hair over 200 pounds, Tillman looked like a Rob Liefeld comic book cover. During his NFL career, he played for the Cardinals, at one point even turning down a higher-paying contract out of loyalty to his team. The kid was a mensch.
Then, after 9/11, Tillman quit the NFL to join the army with his brother, Kevin, who himself dropped out of a contract with the Cleveland Indians. The two became Army Rangers, graduating from what many consider to be the most elite military training program on Earth. Two years after he enlisted, Tillman was killed, with initial reports stating that he died in combat.
Well, he definitely died in combat, but what wasn’t revealed until later was that his death was a result of a friendly fire mishap. Speculation circulated that the details of the tragedy were covered up by the Bush administration in order to keep the public from equating an all-American hero with a preventable atrocity.