Sad News: Jeff Monken confirmed the death of two player during the…..

GALLERY# SLUG: sp_army_navy DATE: December 12, 2009 CREDIT: Jonathan Newton / TWP. LOCATION: Philadelphia, Pa. SUBJECT: The 110th Army-Navy game. CAPTION: New Army Head Coach Rich Ellerson works the sidelines during his first Army-Navy game. StaffPhoto imported to Merlin on Sat Dec 12 19:19:04 2009

Writing last week’s column about the Patriots’ Joe Cardona aroused my curiosity about other NFL players who served in the military. That number is so high that it would take several columns to do the topic justice. So in this column, I’m focusing on players killed in action.

Why do baseball veterans get all the credit?

Most of us remember the sad story of Cardinals safety Pat Tillman, who turned down a $3.6-million contract to enlist. He participated in the invasion of Iraq in 2003. After Army Ranger School, he deployed to Afghanistan. On April 22, 2004, Tillman was killed by friendly fire.

Digging deeper, I learned that 995 NFL players and staff served during World War II, 21 of whom died in service. I was stunned.

Only about half that number of baseball players served, but they got the lion’s share of the publicity. Several books were written about baseball’s contribution to the war effort, and stars such as Bob Feller, Ted Williams, Yogi Berra, Hank Greenberg and Warren Spahn made front-page news.

Football may have received short shrift because it was baseball’s heyday as “America’s Pastime.” Baseball players were better known, resulting in more media coverage. It was still early days for football.

However, only two MLB players lost their lives, compared with the 21 deceased gridders.

Football players also experienced more intense combat and received more decorations for valor. No MLB players earned the Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross or the Navy Cross.

By contrast, three footballers (two players and one executive) earned the Medal of Honor. Several others earned the DSC, Navy Cross and Silver Star.Army fires head coach Rich Ellerson, according to report -

Incredibly, Army captain and former Detroit Lions end Maurice Britt earned all four of the top Army awards for heroism: Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star and Bronze Star.

He and the famous Audie Murphy were the only two soldiers to ever accomplish that feat. Britt survived the war, as did Medal of Honor recipient Maj. Joe Foss. One of the top Marine aces of WWII, Foss later became governor of South Dakota. In 1959 he was selected as first commissioner of the new American Football League.

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