At first glance, a seventh round pick who played just four years in the NFL wouldn't even be a consideration for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Hall is a special place where only the best players to ever play the game are remembered forever.
But...this is Pat Tillman we're talking about. He left the NFL in June of 2002 -- just two years past his NFL All-Pro selection -- to join the military following the Sept. 11 attacks.
How should Tillman be remembered? Is the Pro Football Hall of Fame an appropriate place?
That's the topic of discussion between a panel of writers at NFL.com. Some say the NFL's highest honor should be bestowed upon him for the sacrifice he made. It's hard to argue against that considering his actions and the timing of his decision to leave football at one of the most delicate times in American history.
That said, I'm not sure a bust in Canton makes the most sense. He does deserve to be in Canton, as Steve Wyche of NFL.com notes, but perhaps as a contributor.
This is a tough question because several athletes have sacrificed in their primes to defend our country. That said, Tillman deserves some form of distinction in Canton -- although I'm not quite sure enshrinement as a player fits. The Hall includes those who've contributed to the game in other ways, and Tillman should be one of those.
One thing Tillman did do was bring recognition and awareness to what U.S. troops were doing, and the sacrifices they were making. That's a significant accomplishment and it's something that warrants some sort of acknowledgment in Canton. Maybe a bust isn't what should be done, but recognition as a contributor, so as to separate the distinction between contributions on the field and off the field.