There are people who fight to protect a football, and there are people who fight to protect a country. Then, there’s Pat Tillman.
Tillman was a safety for the Arizona Cardinals who helped his team by compiling 144 tackles and defensing nine passes in 2000 and intercepting two passes in 1999. Tillman was an All-Pro selection in 2000, and he made his mark in the NFL with a solid four-year career.
But that’s not why Tillman is being honored on Independence Day.
Terrorist attacks in New York City on September 11 factored into Tillman’s decision to join the U.S. Army. Tillman could have signed a contract that would have netted him $3.6 million, but he decided to help his country out instead.
As Bleacher Report’s Ty Schalter noted, Tillman could have bowed out of the Army honorably. However, he decided to stay loyal to his country, which ended up costing him his life. Friendly fire ended up tragically killing Tillman, and to make matters worse, Tillman’s fellow troops lied about what happened afterwards.
Tillman, who had always been known for sacrificing and helping out his teammates and troops, watched one of his own men kill him. Let that sink in for a moment.
There are NFL players who put in work and do what they need to do to help their team win, and we call that sacrifice. However, what America needs to realize is that sacrifice is fighting for your country. Sacrifice is when someone puts a life on the line for his or her country.
Pat Tillman is the definition of sacrifice.
He didn’t die in battle, but he showed us all what a true hero is. He showed us all that tragedy isn’t losing a close game on a bad call, and he showed us that sacrifice isn’t about taking a stand for a teammate.
In other words, he showed us that football and sports in general aren’t too important when people are losing their lives for their country. He showed us that our true heroes are the brave, selfless men and women serving for our country.
Tillman was a true hero, and he will always be remembered for what he did. His life ended tragically, but his life also consisted of great moments. If we ever see another fearless, selfless person like Tillman, we will be lucky.