Greedy eBay Seller Forgot Pat Tillman Is a Military Hero First & Sports Hero Second

Pat Tillman's cleatsNeed proof that money doesn't always buy class? The lucrative sports memorabilia industry has been tarnished this week by a "fan" looking to get rich off of a pair of military hero Pat Tillman's cleats. Apparently worn in a game when the late Army Ranger was still playing for the Arizona Cardinals, the cleats are being sold on eBay with a "buy it now offer" of $3.2 million.

Don't think it's tacky enough to try to make money off a military hero who died in combat while serving our country? It gets worse. Jerry Martin says he thinks the fact that he didn't sell them earlier proves he "respects" Tillman's family. 

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Out of respect for the Tillman family, I didn't even put the shoes up for auction for years. But now I'm hoping that someone will enjoy these and cherish them as much as I do.

Apparently Martin's version of respect differs from mine. Respect for the reason these cleats would be cherished would mean understanding what they represent to the nation beyond the NFL.

I mean no disrespect to the guys who play the game (more than 1,000 of whom have served our country with honor too), but Tillman isn't just a football player. He's a man who was inspired by the events of September 11, 2001 to give up fame and fortune on the football field to serve his country. Sadly, he paid the ultimate price for doing so, and that brought him a new kind of fame: the fame that follows a tragic figure who has done something for the greater good. 

His meaning to the country transcends his meaning in the world of sports memorabilia, where people will buy and sell everything they can get their hands on (really, someone once bought baseball legend Ty Cobb's teeth ... which is just plain gross!).

I understand that the 51-year-old who bought these game-worn, signed cleats back in 2001 has the right to sell them. But there's having the right to do something and doing it the right way. At the very least, Martin could be pledging a portion -- any portion of the proceeds -- to a military charity, preferably the Pat Tillman Foundation, but really any will do.

That would be the classy thing to do.

Is there a better way this could be handled?

 

Image via eBay

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