Roy Exum: Taya Kyle’s Bullseye

Friday, October 6, 2017 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

I’m thinking there’s no one on the National Football League who is tougher than Taya Kyle. She’s the one who kept “The Devil of Ramadi” in line and, brother, when you look up the baddest of the bad dudes in your dictionary, a picture of Chris Kyle is the one that stares back. He did four tours as a Navy SEAL sniper in Iraq and, while the Navy still hedges on the exact number, it’s for sure he dropped at least 150 “less bad” guys in the sand.

When he got out of high school he went into professional rodeo but after Chris shattered his arm, he joined the SEALS, earning nicknames like “The Myth” and “The Legend.” Only his fellow SEALS dared to call him “Tex” but Taya could whip him into line faster than you can throw a calf rope. Kyle was so lethal the Iraqis put up posters that offered $80,000 for his head. This guy was “The American Sniper,” the name of his best-selling book and a hit movie that Clint Eastwood made.

Of course, after he was awarded two Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars, he was discharged from the Navy. Two years later he and his friend Chad Littlefield heard about a former Marine suffering from PTSD and offered to take him to a firing range for an easy afternoon. Eddie Ray Roth was excited, just being in Kyle’s presence. Neither knew Eddie Ray Roth also suffered from schizophrenia and in February of 2013 Roth snapped and killed Kyle and Littlefield in a horrible tragedy.

Taya was left to raise two young boys, run Kyle’s foundation which helps veterans with such things as PTSD and is becoming one of the state’s greatest women. She’s bold about saying what’s on her mind and when she does, people listen. Well sir, Taya’s had about enough of the kneelers in the NFL mocking our national anthem. Are you kidding me? She answered the phone both times when the Navy called to tell her Chris had been shot in Iraq.

So the other day the Devil of Ramadi’s widow got out her pad and wrote a letter to the NFL players. There’s a bunch of us who think it needs to be read by everyone who wears a football jersey on Sunday and I’m going to do my part by spreading the word:

* * *


Dear NFL,

You were doing your part to bring people together and heal the world. That's really how healing works. We heal by loving each other and leading by example; showing people what is possible when we love each other just as we are and not only recognize our differences but celebrate them and look at how we can use them together to make us jointly better than our separate parts. You were doing your part celebrating each other based on skills, talent and a joint vision without regard to color and religion.

You were doing your part and we were doing ours. We showed up cheering and groaning together to [sic] as one. We talked in the concession lines and commiserated and celebrated our team together. Did it ever occur to you that you and we were already a mix of backgrounds, races and religions? We were already living the dream you want, right in front of you.

Your desire to focus on division and anger has shattered what many people loved most about the sport. Football was really a metaphor for our ideal world –different backgrounds, talents, and histories actually made us one big team with one big goal - to do well, to win, TOGETHER.

You are asking us to abandon what we loved about togetherness and make choices of division. Will we stand with you? Will we stand with our flag? What does it mean? What does it mean if we buy a ticket or NFL gear? What does it mean if we don't? It is the polar opposite of the easy togetherness we once loved in football.

It was simple – we loved you and you loved us – with all of our races, religions and different backgrounds. Simplicity in a crazy world was pretty awesome.

You, dear NFL, have taken that (away.) You have lost me here.

If you ever want to get off your knees and get to work on building bridges, let me know. I have found screaming about the problems in service marriages or even standing in silence in front of them, hasn't healed even one of them. On the other hand, funding the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation, building a team, and rolling up my sleeves to get in the trenches during my “off time”  -- volunteering there outside of my paying jobs -- has proven to make real change.

You have a lot of strong guys, I am sure in the off season a lot of them could build some pretty big bridges if they care enough to do the hard work. That would involve getting off their knees and getting to work though. I can do it while I raise two kids as their only parent and work through the greatest pain of my life, let's see if they can do it for the issues they say they care so much about.

Go Longhorns and Sic 'Em …



* * *

After Chris Kyle wrote his book, he was asked about the Battle of Ramadi and he said, “Force moved that battle. We killed the bad guys and brought the leaders to the peace table. That is how the world works." For Taya Kyle to urge the NFL players to sit at the peace table makes pretty good sense. Here’s hoping she’ll be a catalyst.

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