Watching some of the ceremonies today for the anniversary of 9/11 brings back a flood of memories for me, just like I am sure for everyone out there. For me, many of them are Cardinal-related. The day of the attacks was a Tuesday. The Cards were supposed to play in Washington against the Redskins the following Sunday, and I was to stay in a hotel walking distance from the Pentagon. That trip, if you recall, ended up pushed back to the back end of the season, and the Pentagon obviously wasn’t all the way reconstructed by the time that first weekend in January rolled around.
The first road trip ended up being to Philly, still close to the area and we went only a couple of weeks later. Seeing the military personnel with machine guns everywhere in the terminal was unsettling, to say the least.
Being ’01, the Cards were still in the NFC East, so we also took a trip to play the Giants. I and three of my newspaper cohorts went to dinner in the city the Saturday night before the game and then decided to see Ground Zero afterward. It was mid-November, it was around midnight, and it was a surreal sight. Workers were still very busy clearing debris. What was left of the structure of one of the towers still climbed up in the air a couple hundred feet into the darkness, the temporary lights shining through the slits of the metal. With the dust of the site, it made for an eerie and — despite the noise of the work — still relatively silent situation. Flyers of the dead and the missing still were posted all over the place.
But for me, 9/11 was also about Cardinals safety Pat Tillman, even though I didn’t know it at the time. In those days, then-Cardinals coach Dave McGinnis still met with the press on Tuesdays, and besides, with a game approaching, it was going to be a story how the NFL handled things. So I went to the facility quickly, and sat in front of the TV in the media room watching the events unfold. Tillman eventually came in and sat next to me to do the same. Being a reporter, I had to ask him his thoughts. Part of what he said? “What we do is worthless … We’re actors.” He clearly had a hard time reconciling his job with the much bigger problems of the world at that time. Was joining the Army in his mind by then? I don’t know. But every year at this time, these are the things that come to mind.
And to those who lost their lives that day, and their loved ones — and those who have died fighting in the conflicts created from that day — our thoughts are with you.
Tags: 9/11, Giants, Pat Tillman, Redskins
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