Pat Tillman: Good Player, Better Man
Some things in this world are bigger than football. Many of us, myself included, look at football as part of the fiber that makes up our being. Everyone loves a good hit or a spectacular play. Everyone loves to cheer for his or her favorite team on game day. Every once in awhile though, something happens to put these things into proper perspective.
One such moment was in May of 2002 when Pat Tillman, then a safety for the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, made the humbling gesture of turning down a three year contract worth a reported $3.6 million to join the Army with his brother Kevin Tillman. Kevin was a minor league baseball player in the Cleveland Indians’ organization at the time.
The Tillman’s went through training during which time they turned away media coverage and special treatment. The brothers joined the elite group of Special Forces, the Rangers and almost immediately found themselves deployed to Afghanistan.
On Thursday, April 15 2004 while in Afghanistan searching for Al Qaeda and Taliban forces, the Tillmans found themselves in an ambush. Pat ordered his men up an embankment and he was killed in action.
The NFL chose to honor Tillman, a true hero who valued freedom and liberty over material possessions, by placing a number 40 decal on the helmet of every player in the NFL for a weekend. Former Arizona teammate Cory Chavous wears a towel emblazoned with the number 40 in Tillman’s honor and has stated he will do so for the rest of his career. Many other players have also made similar gestures to try and make sure that football fans everywhere remember what a great man Tillman was.
He made the ultimate sacrifice while trying to make the world a safer place for the rest of us. No one can deny that if there were more men like him in the world, we would all be better for it. May he rest in peace.
This article was released on 2004-10-28.
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