Pro-Player Spotlight: Pat Tillman


In the middle of salute to service month, I saw fit to write about a few of the pros with served and even made the ultimate sacrifice. The most famous of these being the well known Patrick Daniel Tillman.

Tillman was born on November 6th, 1976 in Fremont, California and was the oldest of three sons. He attended Bret Harte Middle School and later Leland High School leading the team to a championship. Surprisingly enough he wasn’t always a consistent football star, his freshman year he decided to play baseball as a catcher but was only on the JV squad. After a disappointing season of baseball, he decided to concentrate on football for the remainder of his tenure at Leland High. All of this paid off when he got a full-ride scholarship to Arizona State University to play linebacker for them.

He was an absolute animal getting defensive player of the year during his sophomore year and leading the Arizona State football team to an undefeated season going all the way to the Rose Bowl win.

These stellar performances got the eye of a few teams in the NFL, one of which is the Arizona Cardinals, who decided to pick him up number 226 in the 1998 NFL draft. Tillman moved over to play the safety position in the NFL and started ten of sixteen games in his rookie season. He was also named defensive player of the year in 2000. Tillman finished his career with totals of 340 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 3 interceptions for 37 yards, 3 forced fumbles, 15 pass deflections, and 3 fumble recoveries in 60 career games. In addition, he also had 1 rush attempt for 4 yards and returned 3 kickoffs for 33 yards.

Tillman and his brother Kevin enlisted on May 31, 2002. Kevin gave up the chance of a career in professional football as he had already signed to play for the Arizona Cardinals. In September 2002, they completed basic training together. They later both went on to become army rangers and be deployed to Iraq.

Pat decided to re-enlist and got sent to Afghanistan. He was out on patrol and was killed in a firefight. Initially the report was that he had died fighting the enemy but was sadly killed by friendly fire.

Pat Tillman is often referred to as an American hero and a true patriot for his service and sacrifice. He left behind a legacy to remember since his jersey numbers are retired and with the Pat Tillman foundation dedicated to helping veterans.