A day to remember Pat Tillman

Posted by Darren Urban on April 22, 2015 – 2:15 pm

Pat Tillman died 11 years ago today.

It was a jarring result of a story that had already become legend. Tillman had joined the military in 2002 after shunning the Cardinals’ multi-million dollar offer, and he had made it through his first tour of the Middle East. He even visited the Cardinals on their road trip to Seattle late in the 2003 season, to talk to then-coach Dave McGinnis. But Tillman, who could have gotten out at that point, decided he was going to go back into the fighting one more time.

I remember getting the call from a local TV sports producer I knew, asking me if I had heard the news about Tillman. I had not. I was sitting in my kitchen with my wife and two young sons, it was around 7 a.m., and I didn’t quite know what to do. I came to the Cardinals’ facility — it was the day before the 2004 draft — and it was just hard. There were still plenty of players around who had played with Pat. Offensive lineman Pete Kendall came in to talk about Tillman the best he could. New coach Denny Green, who came after Tillman left, was around, but it was like he didn’t know quite what to do around all of us that had known Tillman.

I’ve written many times about Tillman and told my Tillman stories. It’s that time of year to think about them, with the anniversary and, Saturday, the annual Pat’s Run over at ASU, in which I will be participating for a 10th straight year. It’s the time to listen to this tribute the team put together right after Pat’s death, a moving piece that local radio stations still play to this day. It’s the time to remember a guy who embodied what sacrifice was — whether it was something as little as spending his own time to teach his eventual replacement the playbook or as big as fighting for our country and losing his life because of it.


Posted in Blog | 14 Comments »

14 Responses to “A day to remember Pat Tillman”

  1. By D on Apr 22, 2015 | Reply

    Well done Darren.

  2. By Dr. G. on Apr 22, 2015 | Reply

    A gut-wrenching memory. I watched Tillman play his college and pro football games on the same field…always all out. He was the guy who climbed the light pole to check out the part of the world he could see…It wasn’t enough. ASU Security was baffled.

    It is worth repeating that he wanted to do something meaningful with his life; so many of us just take things for granted. As a fellow member of military missions, I salute his heart felt love for the freedom we enjoy and the opportunities we have before us. It is a really big deal..!! That is why we have such huge immigration issues. Everyone wants to live here.


  3. By georgiebird on Apr 22, 2015 | Reply

    Pat Tillman was a great American. Nothing else needs to be said.
    While this Country likes to honor philanderers like JFK and MLK, the guys we honor on Memorial Day are the truly special Americans.

  4. By Brett In Co. on Apr 22, 2015 | Reply

    Thank you to all military personnel from past, present, and future.

  5. By Tucson Card on Apr 22, 2015 | Reply

    Great tribute thanks Darren. The Cardinals organization does a great job of never letting Pat and his sacrifice be forgotten. Pat is a hero of mine; it’s always good to take a moment to remember his being and his sacrifice….especially on a quiet Wednesday night.

  6. By Patrick Hoog aka Don't Take Losses on Apr 23, 2015 | Reply

    Pat’s pic on our refrig at home.

  7. By Patrick Hoog aka Don't Take Losses on Apr 23, 2015 | Reply

    Dr. G…well said.

  8. By clssylssy on Apr 25, 2015 | Reply

    WOW! 30,000 runners out for Pat’s Run including Fitz, Patrick Peterson, Justin Bethel, Jay Feeley and others from the Cards Organization. Very moving tribute to Pat and such a worthy cause. Thanks to all!

  9. By brinnc on Apr 26, 2015 | Reply

    As a career military man stories like this really hit home, and not just Pat’s story, thousands of other men and women had a story as well. I had 22 years in the Marine Corps with 5 tours to Iraq/Afghanistan, not to mention the first gulf war, Somalia, and Rwanda, ( of all the tours Rwanda was the absolute worst!!) I retired but was recently recalled and sent back over as most of you are aware of, Pat’s sacrifice was huge in my eye’s, I’m talking about the sacrifice he made giving up a pro football career to join the military, and he didnt join as an officer to sit behind some desk sending out orders that were sent down through the chain of 1000 stars at the Pentagon! No, Pat enlisted, and went infantry then Ranger training, that takes guts, especially when you have already established a career that very few will ever have the chance or be talented enough to ever succeed in the NFL!!! The fact that friendly fire took him from us makes it just that much more painful. To me who has lost Marines in combat, there is no loss that is bigger than the other, all the young men and woman who have paid the ultimate price for this great nation, are all terrible losses, what sets Pat apart, and in my mind makes him a better man than me, in the recent wars it has been an all volunteer force, nobody was forced to serve, myself included, but I put Pat on a pedestal because when I think about it, looking back on 22+ years, back to the beginning, would I have had the guts to turn down a multi-million dollar contract after busting my backside for years proving that I belonged with the elite of the NFL? And honestly, I cant answer that question, I can sit here and tell myself that I served my country all thru the prime of my life, made multiple sacrifices, and all that mumbo jumbo, but could I have “sacrificed what Pat sacrificed…Im not so sure I could give up what he gave up not just to serve his country, but to be in the fight, serving his country in multiple combat tours!!! If I’m going to be completely honest with myself, I dont think I could have given it all up like Pat did, and not many others that I know of have done the same, sure, hundreds of thousands of us have volunteered, and served in combat, some made the ultimate sacrifice, and should never be forgotten! !! But what Pat Tillman gave up in order to serve his country, makes him not just a hero, but in my mind, it makes him THE hero!!!
    RIP Pat Tillman!!! You will never be forgotten, nor will all the other service member’s who have made the ultimate sacrifice!!

  10. By Mike Archer on Apr 26, 2015 | Reply

    Again, society has it wrong!

    Role model? A hero? I’m doubting it. Erratic? Yes!!

    This past weekend on ESPN Classic Sports Channel they ran Pat Tillman’s biography many times. Pat was known by his friends and family to be a risk taker, even as a young fella. For example, doing reverse flips out of an upper story window into a swimming pool. Also, daredevil cliff diving where no one else would risk trying.

    The most bizarre was when he would climb up the light poles at Sun Devil Stadium every Thursday to meditate. Something that would get anyone else arrested and mentally evaluated.

    The most alarming was he had a violent felony conviction for beating a man during his senior year in high school. Maybe that is why he was not an Officer in the Army?

    His friends and family didn’t do Tillman any favors by blowing off his erratic behavior as if that’s Pat being Pat type treatment!

    War is a serious business. No place for risk taking, and it was a good thing that he only took one other with him. He could have made a mistake taking a risk that could have got his whole squad or platoon killed. At 18 years old I made it through
    the Vietnam “Meat-grinder” with many scars, injuries and other complications, as many others did. And are still doing today!

  11. By Mike Archer on Apr 26, 2015 | Reply

    Afghanistan War Medal of Honor Recipients:
    Lance Corporal William Kyle Carpenter Date of Issue: 06/19/2014 Organization: U.S. Marine Corps) Specialist Ty M. Carter Date of Issue: 08/26/2013
    Organization: U.S. Army, Battle Company, B Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment) Staff Sergeant Salvatore A. Giunta Date of Issue: 11/16/2010 Organization: U.S. Army, Battle Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry, 173rd Airborne Brigade) Sergeant Dakota Meyer Date of Issue: 09/15/2011 Organization: U.S. Marine Corps.)

    Staff Sergeant Robert J. Miller Date of Issue: 10/06/2010 Organization: U.S. Army, Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha 3312) Sergeant First Class Jared C. Monti Date of Issue: 09/17/2009
    Organization: U.S. Army, Headquarters Company, 10th Mountain Division) Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy Date of Issue: 10/22/2007 Organization: U.S. Navy, ALFA Platoon, SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1)

  12. By Mike Archer on Apr 26, 2015 | Reply

    United States military casualties in the War in Afghanistan

    As of December 31, 2014, there have been 2,312 U.S. military deaths in the War in Afghanistan. 1,850 of these deaths have been the result of hostile action. 20,026 American service members have also been wounded in action during the war. In addition, there were 1,173 U.S. civilian contractor fatalities.

  13. By Mike Archer on Apr 26, 2015 | Reply

    Tom, Pat & Mike

    Whenever I wish to read a short fiction story I go to the sports pages and read the Beat Writers lame attempt to turn Athletes into World Class Heroes! For those who doubt me? I must point to the fact that Julius Erving is not a Doctor and Earvin Johnson knows nothing about performing Magic! You don’t know Tom Marendt at all, or should, for that matter! He was a childhood friend and still is a friend! Tom was a football star! I was not, nor are many of you! Tom played for Woodie Hayes at Ohio State and had a shot at the pros! Until he blew out one knee and then the other! On our Alumni Facebook page they posted a team basketball picture with Tom in it at the 8th grade level! He was one year younger than I in grade level, but one year older than I in actual age! His parents held him back to enhance his chance at the big time! He is still being praised by the Howe High School groupies! Tom never found his Pot of Gold at the end of the Rainbow! This is what I posted on the Facebook under their comments!

    One fact I do know! When this picture was taken, Tom Marendt’s had two good knees! When he hurt his two knees, his hope was lost of making money playing football! Although he received an education for his troubles!

    I never played football and never made money playing football, but I still have two good knees! Also, my education at ASU was paid for by benefits from serving in the Army! As well as many others have! Many of you might roll your eyes at this analogy of mine. My accomplishments were and are far greater! As were many others! Tom’s had little impact, only on football groupies.

    When a American soldier dies, is hurt, or survives a War! It has impact on millions not only in their own country but throughout the World! Pat Tillman made lots of money playing football as well, but at 18, I made it farther than he did in a War! As did many others! Plus, I was smart enough to know not to stand up during a firefight or think, “I’m Mike “F**king” Archer!” Society killed Pat Tillman! He listened to his hype! Society took Tom Marendt’s knees while chasing fame and fortune . Society pushed all the Military Veterans to the bottom of Society’s fictitious Totem Pole! A true, true travesty! This is what all reporters here in Phoenix needs to write about!

    No one seems care these days when a Solider comes back home!I never really listen to American Society! I always try think for myself!

  14. By James Moore on Apr 28, 2015 | Reply


    With very little respect to you,,,,,,,SHUT UP! If you truly are a Vet then why in the world would you spit on this man’s memory? You are a shame. If you can’t acknowledge how many people would NEVER walk away from a multi million dollar contract to fight for a cause they think is just, you are a blind fool.

    LCPL Moore


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