Pat Tillman’s Widow Blasts Trump for Dragging Her Husband Into NFL Anthem Fight

“Pat’s service… should never be politicized in a way that divides us,” Marie Tillman tells CNN

Marie Tillman, the widow of NFL player-turned-Army Ranger Pat Tillman, spoke out on Monday to criticize President Donald Trump for using her late husband’s image in a recent tweet to bolster his case against NFL players who protest during the national anthem before games.

“It is my hope that his memory should always remind people that we must come together. Pat’s service, along with that of every man and woman’s service, should never be politicized in a way that divides us,” Marie Tillman said in a statement to CNN released Monday night.

The statement came in response to the president’s retweet of a pro-Trump account’s statement using her husband’s name and face.

Tillman, who’s been critical of the president’s policies in the past, also defended the rights of athletes to express themselves.

“The very action of self expression and the freedom to speak from one’s heart — no matter those views — is what Pat and so many other Americans have given their lives for. Even if they didn’t always agree with those views,” she wrote. “It is my sincere hope that our leaders both understand and learn from the lessons of Pat’s life and death, and also those of so many other brave Americans.”

Pat Tillman was a linebacker for the Arizona Cardinals who turned down a lucrative contract to serve in the military following the events of Sept. 11, 2001, before dying in a  friendly fire incident in Afghanistan in 2004.

You can read her full statement below.

“As a football player and soldier, Pat inspired countless Americans to unify. It is my hope that his memory should always remind people that we must come together. Pat’s service, along with that of every man and woman’s service, should never be politicized in a way that divides us. We are too great of a country for that. Those that serve fight for the American ideals of freedom, justice and democracy. They and their families know the cost of that fight. I know the very personal costs in a way I feel acutely every day.

The very action of self expression and the freedom to speak from one’s heart — no matter those views — is what Pat and so many other Americans have given their lives for. Even if they didn’t always agree with those views. It is my sincere hope that our leaders both understand and learn from the lessons of Pat’s life and death, and also those of so many other brave Americans.”

Brian Stelter, of CNN, said Marie shared the statement with him in the hopes that the President would see it.

Trump wasn’t the only one to elicit Tillman’s name in the name of the recent debate over national anthem protests. Earlier this month, Tyler Eifert of the Cincinnati Bengals, said he wrote Tillman’s name on his cleats because he wanted to honor the “people putting their lives on the line” and stand during the national anthem.