ESPN Receives Backlash For Giving Pat Tillman Award To Prince Harry

Pat Tillman is regarded as an American hero, as he left his NFL playing career for the Arizona Cardinals, to join the U.S. Army in May of 2002, amid the aftermath following the 9/11 attacks.

Tillman tragically died while serving in Afghanistan (2004) at 27 years old, and ever since then, ESPN has honored him by giving out an ESPY's award in his name. Every year, one person who exemplifies what it means to have the qualities of courage, loyalty, and integrity is given the Pat Tillman Award For Service.

This year there has been contention over the award winner, as ESPN gave it to Prince Harry from the British royal family. Many felt including Tillman's mother, Marie Tillman, that the Duke of Sussex is not fit for this honor.

On Sunday, Ms. Tillman told The Mail she felt there were other candidates who were more deserving.

"I am shocked as to why they would select such a controversial and divisive individual to receive the award... There are recipients that are far more fitting. There are individuals working in the veteran community that are doing tremendous things to assist veterans."

ESPN cited that Harry was given the award due to his founding of the Invictus Games.

"ESPN, with the support of the Tillman Foundation, is honoring Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, specifically for the work of The Invictus Games Foundation as it celebrates its 10th year promoting healing through the power of sport for military service members and veterans around the world."

Tillman's mother believes Harry's position of wealth and authority far exceeds those that will go unappreciated for their impact and service to the veteran community.

"These individuals do not have the money, resources, connections or privilege that Prince Harry has. I feel that those types of individuals should be recognized."

Former NFL player/ESPN personality Pat McAfee, who was the host at the 2023 ESPY's, also sounded off against the decision.

ESPN responded to the controversy of choosing the prince for the award.

"While we understand not everyone will agree with all honorees selected for any award, The Invictus Games Foundation does incredible work and ESPN believes this is a cause worth celebrating."