ESPN Responds to Backlash After Selecting Prince Harry as 'Pat Tillman Award' Winner


ESPN is finally responding to the intense backlash the network has faced in recent days.

The backlash came from its choice for the Pat Tillman Award at this year’s ESPY’s — none other than royal family member Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex.

Tillman, who played safety for the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, enlisted in the Army after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and was killed while serving in Afghanistan.

The Pat Tillman Award for Service is meant to honor “Tillman’s legacy and someone who has used their connection to the sports world to positively impact the lives of others.”

On Saturday, his mother, Mary Tillman, expressed her disapproval of ESPN’s choice of Harry.

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“I am shocked as to why they would select such a controversial and divisive individual to receive the award,” she said, according to the U.K.’s Daily Mail.

“There are recipients that are far more fitting,” Tillman said. “There are individuals working in the veteran community that are doing tremendous things to assist veterans.

“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.”

On Monday, ESPN responded to her and other critics of its choice.

Should ESPN choose a different winner for this award?

“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,” the network told The Hollywood Reporter.

“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,” it said.

The Invictus Games Foundation “offers a recovery pathway for international wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women” through sporting events and programs.

Harry, who served in the British military in Iraq and Afghanistan, launched the organization in 2014 after returning from his deployment.

Tillman’s mother wasn’t the only one who voiced displeasure with ESPN’s choice of the royal.

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Many commenters on social media criticized the selection.

“The Pat Tillman Award has been tarnished by giving it to Prince Harry, just like the [Nobel] Prize when they gave it to Obama,” one user wrote.

“[W]hy should anyone be shocked at what ESPN does, they are totally a WOKE company,” another said.

“ESPN synonymous with woke. Disgusting and becoming more irrelevant every day as evident by the collapse of their viewer subscriptions,” a third person said.

The Pat Tillman Award will be handed out at the ESPY Awards on July 11.

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Michael wrote for a number of entertainment news outlets before joining The Western Journal in 2020 as a staff reporter. He now manages the writing and reporting teams, overseeing the production of commentary, news and original reporting content.
Michael Austin graduated from Iowa State University in 2019. During his time in college, Michael volunteered as a social media influencer for both PragerU and Live Action. After graduation, he went on to work as a freelance journalist for various entertainment news sites before joining The Western Journal in 2020 as a staff reporter.

Since then, Michael has been promoted to the role of Manager of Writing and Reporting. His responsibilities now include managing and directing the production of commentary, news and original reporting content.
Ames, Iowa
Iowa State University
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