The late Arizona Cardinals safety died 14 years ago today
Growing up an Arizona State Sun Devils fan, I practically breathed Sun Devils growing up, much to the dismay of my mother. You can thank my grandfather for that. I also grew up an Arizona Cardinals fan though.
When September 11, 2001 happened, much like the rest of you, I was shocked. I was appalled. I was angry. How could this happen?
Former Arizona State Sun Devil linebacker and Arizona Cardinals safety Pat Tillman took that anger a step further. He put it into action. Real action. That is why we remember him today.
We don’t remember Tillman because he died, we remember him because of how he lived. Yes, he died on April 22, 2004 but he lived for 27-plus years prior to that day.
Full disclaimer, I ended up an Arizona Wildcat. Never thought growing up I’d ever say that, but it happened. You’re taught growing up the two schools don’t like each other very much.
He started his ASU career in 1994. I was in my senior year at U of A at the time. Of course I grew to have dislike for the Sun Devils. However did I ever respect Tillman for not only his play but because of how much we heard what kind of kid he was.
He was a smart one, very smart. He was small for a linebacker, so he moved to safety when the Cardinals drafted him in 1998, almost 20 years ago to the day.
Not many gave him a shot to make it in the NFL but he did. It was much like those who doubted he could even play at ASU but he did.
Three years into his pro career though, everything changed. When September 11th happened, his career plans drastically changed. He wanted to enlist. He wanted to be an Army Ranger.
So, after the 2001 season he did just that with his brother Kevin. He wanted to go fight for our country. He gave up his pro contract.
He went to the middle east to protect all of us. He worked hard for himself but he always put others before himself. He was very special that way.
The personality endeared him to many. His hard work never forgotten. Every year many run in honor of him in the annual Pat Tillman run in Tempe. The latest event taking place just this past weekend.
Today we take time to remember someone who put it all on the line so that we all could continue to enjoy the freedom’s such as watching high school football on Friday nights, college football every Saturday, an the NFL on Sunday’s.
Thank you for your service. Thank you, Pat Tillman, for having existed.