Pat Tillman is one of the American heroes we must never forget on Memorial Day. He was the American hero who never imagined himself as one, who turned his back on millions of NFL to carry the flag and fight as Army Ranger to the perpetrators of September 11, first in Baghdad, then in Afghanistan, where he drove out the Taliban. and al-Qaeda with even more ferocity than Braveheart than he chased the ball carriers, first to Arizona State, then for four seasons with the Cardinals.
He had been a seventh round pick in 1998, purportedly too small at 5 feet 11 inches 195 pounds to be linebacker and too slow to be a safety. He lived every day and played each piece with passion and an incessant fury that often ignited fights in practice. He knew everything about the game plan. He wore flip flops and his long hair.
September 11, 2001, everything changed for all of us… especially for Pat Tillman. He was born with wild curiosity, a relentless thirst for knowledge and discovery. It was an unfiltered daredevil whose fearlessness knew no bounds, who never faced a challenge he did not appreciate.
Dave McGinnis was the Cardinals’ head coach on September 11.
“In the meeting rooms, there is a divided attack and defense on each side of the auditorium and they have huge glass windows,” McGinnis told the Post. “And on the defensive glass, the Republic of Arizona, their very last page, was an American flag. “
Maybe it was 9/13.
“Pat had cut this American flag,” said McGinnis, “and displayed it in the meeting room on the defensive side of the building. “
This, from an ESPN SportsCentury clip, was Pat Tillman on 9/12:
“At times like this, you stop and think not only how much we have it, but what kind of system we live in, what freedoms we are allowed to do, and it wasn’t built overnight . My great grandfather was in Pearl Harbor, and a lot of my family left and fought in wars, and I really did nothing, just put myself on the line like that, and so I have a great respect for those who have, and what the flag stands for. “
Tillman married high school sweetheart Marie on May 4, 2002, and upon returning from honeymoon, informed McGinnis of his mind-boggling career change, refusing a $ 9 million free agent offer Mike Martz and the Rams.
“He is a historic figure because of his selfless attitude, and giving up what most people think is a dream of all dreams, playing in the NFL, going to fight for his country”, former spirit / teammate / quarterback – rear of Arizona State and Cardinals. Jake Plummer told the Post. “I think for him it was that he was fighting for his country, but it was something he was doing for his own inner peace and understanding.”
Tillman and his brother Kevin were stationed at Fort Lewis in Seattle prior to their deployment to Afghanistan, and McGinnis obtained tickets for the Cardinals-Seahawks match. McGinnis asked Pat Tillman to speak to the team.
“It’s not about me,” Tillman told him. “I just want to watch the guys play. “
Tillman said goodbye to his former team in the post-game locker room and hugged McGinnis.
“Coach Mac,” Tillman told him, “I love you. I’ll see you soon. “
“I love you too, Pat,” said McGinnis. And all these years later, McGinnis said sadly, “And this is the last time I saw him. “
No one wanted to believe that Pat Tillman had been ambushed and killed on April 22, 2004. If anyone could find Osama bin Laden, it would be Pat Tillman.
“I still carry in my briefcase a letter that Pat sent me from his training camp today,” Cardinals former defensive coordinator Larry Marmie told The Post. “Everyone loved Pat Tillman. “
“Pat Tillman was a very, very unique human being,” said McGinnis. “He was a Renaissance man, he really was. He was as bright and as hard physically and as loyal as anyone you would ever want to be around. He was a man, but at the same time he appealed to all categories of people. “
He was a man of honor.
“No human,” said McGinnis, now a Titans radio analyst in his 35th NFL season, “has had more impact on my life than Pat Tillman. “
Tillman deserved better than the army initially concealing the terrible truth that he had been the victim of friendly fire.
“He was just a real badass human, you know?” Said Plummer.
Plummer, wearing flip-flops, delivered the eulogy.
“I hated doing this,” said Plummer. “Everyone wanted to portray him as that nasty, ramshackle and killing warrior, and he was so much more. So I had to talk about how I felt about him, the beauty of a person like him. “
Plummer to this day is motivated by Tillman’s memory.
“He will be remembered for hundreds of hundreds of years,” says Plummer. Hundreds and hundreds of commemorative days.