Marie Tillman, the widow of former NFL player and U.S. Army serviceman Pat Tillman, told CNN in a statement that she doesn't want the memory of her husband to be politicized.
"As a football player and soldier, Pat inspired countless Americans to unify," Marie Tillman told CNN. "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."
Pat Tillman stepped away from the NFL while in his playing prime to join the U.S. Army in 2002 and was killed in action in 2004.
"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," Marie Tillman said. "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."
On Monday, President Donald Trump retweeted a Twitter account that invoked the memory of Pat Tillman and included the hashtags "StandForOurAnthem" and "BoycottNFL."
Pat Tillman's former team, the Arizona Cardinals, joined NFL teams in showing solidarity among players and, in some cases, coaches, staff and owners, during the national anthem in Week 3. The en masse demonstrations followed Trump's comment in Alabama on Friday that NFL owners should "fire" any players that don't stand for the national anthem.
"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he's fired. He's fired,'" Trump said Friday. "You know, some owner is going to do that. He's going to say, 'That guy that disrespects our flag, he's fired.' And that owner, they don't know it [but] they'll be the most popular person in this country."