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Pat Tillman

An unbelieveable true story of a celebrity sports star who volunteered to serve his country. No wonder the media only reports on what it understands: self involvement, greed and scandal. When you get to know the troops personally you find they are all this unbelieveably selfless and heroic. Maybe Pat Tillman signed up to serve partially to be in the company of people who were like him, with that special quality we all thought had died with soldiers of the last wars. The more I learn about our troops the more amazed I am at who they really are and how they really feel about serving- this country and those they liberate. This is our "greatest generation".
We lost Pat Tillman to a horrific accident of "friendly fire"- this is not unusual. The unsung heroes of the Bridge on the River Kwai and countless other casualties of war "mistakes" have probably left the troops involved more broken hearted than anyone can fathom. Those who serve have bigger hearts and care more about their fellow man than those who do not serve. War IS hell, and no one knows that better than those who serve. Be sure of this- Pat Tillman died from a war started by Osama Bin Laden and for no other reason.
NFL.com Arizona Cardinals : Team News
Arizona Cardinals
 

Safety to give up NFL life for the Army

NFL.com wire reports

PHOENIX (May 23, 2002) -- Arizona Cardinals safety Pat Tillman is giving up the NFL for the Army.

Tillman said he is enlisting in the Army for three years. Cardinals coach Dave McGinnis said Tillman, a two-year starter at free safety, wants to go through boot camp and join the elite Rangers program with his younger brother, Kevin, an infielder who spent last year with the Cleveland Indians' organization.

"This is very serious with Pat," McGinnis said. "It's very personal, and I honor that. I honor the integrity of that. It was not a snap decision he woke up and made yesterday. This has been an ongoing process, and he feels very strongly about it."

Tillman, a California native who was married two weeks ago and recently returned from a honeymoon in Bora Bora, talked to Cardinals owner Bill Bidwill, McGinnis and defensive coordinator Larry Marmie in separate interviews. He could not be reached for comment.

His agent, Frank Bauer, called the decision consistent with his client's contemplative, nonmaterialistic nature.

Tillman, an unrestricted free agent, spurned a five-year offer sheet from the St. Louis Rams in 2001 and allowed a multi-year deal with the Cardinals to sit on the table this spring despite Bauer's urging to sign.

"This is very consistent with how he conducts his life," Bauer said. "Patty is the type of guy who is very smart and very loyal. I remember when the Rams made their offer, he said, 'No, I want to stay with the Cardinals. If I have to play for the minimum, I don't care.' He axed the offer sheet and played another year. But he's always had a blueprint for what he wants to do. Now everything else is on the back burner."

Tillman, 25, never tired of football, but felt his hand was forced by the military's age restriction on entry in special-forces units, Bauer said. The agent said Tillman hopes to resume his NFL career when his enlistment is up.

Newlywed Marie Tillman supports her husband's decision to leave one rugged profession for a more dangerous one, Bauer said.

The 5-foot-11, 200-pound Tillman has always been distinguished by his appetite for rugged play and intelligence. As an undersized linebacker at Arizona State, he was the Pac-10's Defensive Player of the Year in 1997.

He warmed up for last year's training camp by competing in a 70.2-mile triathlon in June, and finished his fourth NFL year with 478 career tackles and three interceptions.

As a scholar, Tillman carried a 3.84 grade point average through college and graduated summa cum laude in 3 academic years with a degree in marketing.

"The guy has got something to him, and that's why I wanted him on the team all these years," McGinnis said.


AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2002, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved

Tillman follows beat of a different drum

By Tom Barnidge
NFL Insider

March 20, 2003) -- Those who know Pat Tillman know that he always has welcomed a challenge.

 

As a youth, he high-dived from bridges and cliffs. At Arizona State, he hopped the fence at Sun Devil Stadium and climbed a light tower. Before reporting for training camp with the Arizona Cardinals two years ago, he competed in a 70-mile triathlon. 

"He's like Forrest Gump. He tries everything," says Frank Sanders, his former teammate.

 

So no one should have been surprised last spring when Tillman, entering his fourth NFL season, shucked it all and joined his brother, Kevin, in setting out to become an Army Ranger. What's a three-year, $3.6 million pro football contract when you can collect $18,000 a year from Uncle Sam?

Pat Tillman gave up the glamour of the NFL to serve his country.  
Pat Tillman gave up the glamour of the NFL to serve his country.   

 

"Pat has very deep and true convictions," Cardinals coach Dave McGinnis said at the time. "He's a deep thinker, and believe me, this was something he thought out."

 

Tillman made no public statement. He wasn't in this for the publicity. But you didn't need to dig too deeply to find an explanation for his actions. Friends said that the 9/11 terrorist attacks had affected him deeply. Cardinals defensive coordinator Larry Marmie, after a conversation with his former player, said Tillman felt he needed to "pay something back" for the comfortable life he had been afforded.

 

Whatever his rationale, he clearly was serious about his pursuit. He and Kevin completed basic training in July and advanced through individual training in October. They graduated from parachute school in November, and completed the Ranger Indoctrination Program in December. Just that quickly, Tillman was assigned to the second battalion of the 75th Ranger Regiment in Fort Lewis, Washington.

 

"He's a full-fledged Ranger now," Army spokesperson Carol Darby reported. "He's ready for combat. He will move with his unit for whatever that unit is involved in."

 

The 75th Ranger Regiment was deployed recently, presumably to the Middle East. If the description that the Army attaches to the unit ("flexible, highly trained, and rapidly deployed light infantry force with specialized skills") is any measure, the 75th likely will wind up in the middle of the most serious action.

 

You can be sure that Tillman will be prepared for the challenge. He succeeds at just about everything he sets out to do. 

Consider…

 

He arrived at Arizona State in 1994 on the school's last remaining football scholarship, landing a spot on the end of the bench, where dreams go to expire. He left four seasons later as the Pac-10 Conference Defensive Player of the Year.

 

He was selected by the Cardinals with the 226th pick of the 1998 draft -- the league packed up and went home after pick 241 -- and five months later, he was Arizona's starting strong safety.

This is a fellow who doesn't know the meaning of fail -- on the field, in the classroom, or anywhere else. He had a 3.84 grade-point average at ASU and graduated with a degree in marketing in 3 years.

 

Pat Tillman is nothing if not unusual. In college, he played linebacker, where he was thought to be too small. In the NFL, he played safety, where he was thought to be too slow. When he set a club record for tackles in 2000 and attracted the interest of another team, the St. Louis Rams, he declined their five-year offer sheet out of loyalty to the club that had drafted him.

 

NFL players hardly have been strangers to military service. Roger Staubach served four years after graduating from the Naval Academy before joining the Dallas Cowboys as a 27-year-old rookie in 1969. Rocky Bleier of the Pittsburgh Steelers nearly lost a leg to a land mine when he did a tour of duty in Vietnam. 

But the list of names grows a little shorter when it comes to NFL players who have walked away from million-dollar contracts in the prime of their careers.

 

The story that comes to mind is one told by Bruce Snyder, Tillman's coach at Arizona State. It seems that Snyder planned to redshirt Tillman as a freshman, extending his eligibility by a season. Of course, that would necessitate Tillman remaining in college for an extra year. 

"You can do whatever you want with me," Tillman said, "but in four years I'm gone. I've got things to do with my life."

 

Obviously, he still does.

Ex-Cardinal Tillman killed in Afghanistan

 
NFL.com wire reports
 

WASHINGTON (April 23, 2004) -- Pat Tillman walked away from millions in the NFL to fight for his country in Afghanistan.

 

He paid with his life.

The former Arizona Cardinals safety was killed Thursday night in a firefight while on combat patrol with the Army Rangers in Afghanistan. He was 27.

 
Statement from NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue
"Pat Tillman personified all the best values of his country and the NFL. He was an achiever and leader on many levels who always put his team, his community, and his country ahead of his personal interests. Like other men and women protecting our freedom around the world, Pat made the ultimate sacrifice and gave his life in the service of our country. We are deeply saddened by his loss and, on behalf of everyone in the NFL, we extend our heartfelt sympathy to the Tillman family."
 

"He is a hero," Cardinals vice president Michael Bidwill said. "He was a brave man. There are very few people who have the courage to do what he did, the courage to walk away from a professional sports career and make the ultimate sacrifice."

 

Lt. Col. Matt Beevers, a spokesman for the U.S. military in Kabul, said a soldier was killed by anti-coalition militia forces about 25 miles from a U.S. military base at Khost, the site of frequent attacks.

 

A military official at the Pentagon confirmed it was Tillman, and the White House praised him as "an inspiration both on and off the football field."

 

Tillman was an overachiever as an athlete. Too slow to be a great safety, too small for an NFL linebacker, he got by on toughness and effort.

 

Those attributes undoubtedly served him well in the Army Rangers, the elite force he joined in May 2002 after abandoning his career with the Cardinals. He moved from a violent game to the reality of war.

 

"Pat Tillman personified all the best values of his country and the NFL," commissioner Paul Tagliabue said. "He was an achiever and leader on many levels who always put his team, his community, and his country ahead of his personal interests."

Pat Tillman's best season was in 2000 when he started all 16 games and had 224 tackles.  
Pat Tillman's best season was in 2000 when he started all 16 games and had 224 tackles.   
Tillman was the first NFL player killed in combat since Buffalo offensive tackle Bob Kalsu died in the Vietnam War in July 1970. Nineteen NFL players were killed in World War II.

 

Denver quarterback Jake Plummer was a teammate of Tillman for seven years, three at Arizona State and four with the Cardinals.

 

"We lost a unique individual that touched the lives of many with his love for life, his toughness, his intellect," Plummer said in a statement released by the Broncos. "Pat Tillman lived life to the fullest and will be remembered forever in my heart and mind."

 

In college, Tillman was a long-haired wild man on the field, an All-Pac-10 linebacker always going full speed. Bone-jarring hits were his trademark.

 

He and Plummer led the Sun Devils to the 1997 Rose Bowl. The next season, Tillman was the Pac-10 defensive player of the year. He graduated summa cum laude in December 1997 with a marketing degree and a 3.84 grade-point average.

 

The Cardinals took Tillman in the seventh round of the 1998 draft, the 226th player chosen. At first, he made his mark on special teams but played his way into a starting spot at safety.

 

In 2000, he broke the franchise record for tackles with 223. He had 12 solo tackles, and a hand in 21 overall, in a 16-15 victory over Washington that season.

 

In practice, coaches often had to make Tillman slow down so he wouldn't hurt anybody in drills that weren't supposed to be full speed. Slowing down was always tough for him.

 

Before the 2000 season, he ran a marathon to see what it would be like. Before the 2001 season, he gave the triathlon a try.

 

Six months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Tillman walked into the office of then-coach Dave McGinnis, pulled up a chair and said, "Mac, we have to talk."

 

Tillman and his brother Kevin -- a minor league baseball player in the Cleveland organization -- were going to join the Army Rangers, soldiers sent where the fighting is toughest.

 "It was his wish that this not be something that would draw a lot of attention," McGinnis said. "He truly felt committed and felt a sense of honor and duty at this point in his life that this is what he wanted to do."  Tillman never said a word publicly about his decision.  When he returned from his Middle East tour of duty, Tillman, his wife, Marie, and brother Kevin joined the Cardinals for a game in Seattle last December. They spent five hours in McGinnis' hotel room the night before the game, talking.

"He was just so proud to be a member of the Rangers," McGinnis said. "That came through loud and clear."

 

Tillman attended the team's pregame breakfast, then watched the game with Cardinals owner Bill Bidwill and his son, Michael. Tillman talked with his teammates in the locker room after the game, then slipped out a side door before reporters came in.

 Tillman turned down a more lucrative offer from the St. Louis Rams in 2001 to stay with the Cardinals. A year later, he walked away from a three-year, $3.6 million offer from Arizona to join the Army. 

Phil Snow, now defensive coordinator at the University of Washington, held the same position at Arizona State when the Sun Devils recruited Tillman out of San Jose, Calif. 

"Pat was a lot of things as a person," Snow said. "He was a tough, good-looking guy. He was extremely competitive. You know there is a saying with older people: 'He was a man's man.' You always knew where you stood with Pat. There was no phoniness in him." 

Gov. Janet Napolitano ordered flags on the Arizona State campus flown at half-staff. His framed No. 40 jersey was displayed Friday on a table outside Cardinals headquarters, alongside flowers and teddy bears. A pen was left for people to write messages to the Tillman family.

 

"What other person do you know who would give up a life in the NFL to defend what he believes in with his own life?" said former teammate David Barrett, now with the New York Jets. "That is a humble guy."

 AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service
 

Copyright 2004, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved

Remembering Pat Tillman

 

Commissioner Paul Tagliabue

"Pat Tillman personified all the best values of his country and the NFL. He was an achiever and leader on many levels who always put his team, his community and his country ahead of his personal interests. Like other men and women protecting our freedom around the world, Pat made the ultimate sacrifice and gave his life in the service of our country. We are deeply saddened by his loss and, on behalf of everyone in the NFL, we extend our heartfelt sympathy to the Tillman family."

Former Cardinals head coach Dave McGinnis

"This is a painful day for the Tillman family and my condolences go out to them. I have known Pat since 1998 and I don't know if I have ever met a more dedicated person in my lifetime. He represented all that was good in sports, bringing passion, honor, integrity and dignity to the game.

"Pat knew his purpose in life. He proudly walked away from a career in football to a greater calling, which was to protect and defend our country. Pat represents those who have and will make the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. I am overwhelmed with a sense of sorrow, but I also feel a tremendous feeling of pride for him and his service.

"He was not the first and won't be the last to give his life for his country. He always shunned the limelight and I am sure he would want that continued, but his life deserves to be celebrated and for his story to be told. He and the people he served with are what make this country such a special place. It was an honor to be his friend and coach and I will miss him."

Former Cardinals and current Seahawks GM Bob Ferguson

"Pat represents all that is good with this country, our society and ultimately the human condition in general. In today's world of instant gratification and selfishness, here is a man that was defined by words like loyalty, honor, passion, courage, strength and nobility. He is a modern-day hero. As much as I loved him, we need to recognize that this is just one story, one man, one sacrifice of many. I want to thank Pat, his family and all the men and women and their families who have sacrificed their lives for the rest of us."

Arizona senator John McCain

"I am heartbroken today by the news of Pat Tillman's death. The tragic loss of this extraordinary young man will seem a heavy blow to our nation's morale, as it is surely a grievous injury to his loved ones. Many American families have suffered the same terrible sacrifice that Pat's family must now bear, and the patriotism that their loved ones' exemplified is as fine and compelling as Pat's. But there is in Pat Tillman's example, in his unexpected choice of duty to his country over the riches and other comforts of celebrity, and in his humility, such an inspiration to all of us to reclaim the essential public-spiritedness of Americans that many of us, in low moments, had worried was no longer our common distinguishing trait.

"When Pat made his choice to leave the NFL and became an Army Ranger, he declined requests for interviews because he viewed his decision as no more patriotic than that of his less-fortunate, less-renowned countrymen who loved our country enough to volunteer to defend her in a time of peril. It is that first lesson of patriotism that we should reaffirm in our own lives as we celebrate the courageous life and mourn the heroic death of this most honorable American."

Former Cardinals and current Jets CB David Barrett

"It is a tragedy that it had to happen to one of the finer guys in life. What other person do you know would give up a life in the NFL to defend what he believes in with his own life? That is a humble guy. It's so sad that things like this happen to anyone, and especially a great guy like Pat. My condolences go out to his family."

 

   

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