Tillman, after the Towers came down

Posted by Darren Urban on September 11, 2015 – 7:58 am

I’ve told this story before, many times, so bear with me. But as we reach another 9/11 anniversary, it’s hard not to revisit the emotions of that day in 2001. Never Forget is more than just a hashtag.

The towers crumbling, with the time zone difference, was happening just as I was waking up. By the time I got to the Cardinals’ Tempe facility — covering the team for the East Valley Tribune in those days — that Tuesday, football wasn’t exactly the top thing on everyone’s mind. The media workroom in those days had these giant, yellowish soft chairs in front of the TV, and that is where I sat once I got to work.

A Tuesday is the players’ day off, but as with most Tuesdays, a bunch were still milling around. So it wasn’t surprising when Pat Tillman came in the media room and sat in the soft chair next to me. We both just stared at the TV as the news coverage continued. The Cardinals were supposed to play their regular-season opener in Washington that coming Sunday (the team actually had a bye on the NFL’s opening weekend) but it was hard to believe in that moment there could be a game in Washington after the Pentagon was hit, or in New York.

I didn’t know what I was going to write that day, or even if I was going to write that day. Anything about sports seemed so incredibly meaningless, especially in those hours. But there was Tillman, on a day when players usually weren’t available, and as a reporter, that’s the job. So I took a moment, and if I remember right, I prefaced the question saying exactly what I was thinking, that I was sorry to be asking. But then I did what I needed to do, and asked Tillman about his thoughts about possibly having to play in Washington that weekend after the horrifying events of the morning.

“I wouldn’t be worried about our safety,” Tillman said. “My concern would be if it is appropriate. The importance of football ranks zero compared to what happened.

“When you compare it, we’re worthless. … We’re actors.”

That, and Tillman’s famous words on camera the next day, stick with me every year on this day. When you start seeing the memorials on TV when you wake up on Sept. 11, that’s what pops into my head. When I visited the 9/11 Museum with media relations manager Mike Helm during the Cards’ New York trip last season — an emotionally draining afternoon, but one I highly recommend — that day and those moments always flash once again.

My thoughts go out on this day to everyone who lost someone on 9/11. And for everyone affected by that day, which I’d guess pretty much means every single one of us.

Never forget.

NFL Cardinals Tillman


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13 Responses to “Tillman, after the Towers came down”

  1. By cards62 on Sep 11, 2015 | Reply

    Pat Tillman represents all that is right with America. Thank you very much for sharing the story with us Darren as we should never forget.

  2. By Scott H on Sep 11, 2015 | Reply

    God Bless Pat Tillman. Truly a rare individual that would do what he did. As we all remember 9/11 and what Pat did…football seems so in-significant but it is remarkable that he walked away from something that most would see as something that was so great for him as an individual to heed a higher calling.

    When my friends brought me out to Glendale last October for the Eagles game, they will tell you we were NOT entering that stadium until I saw the Pat Tillman statue.

  3. By Nick Pepe on Sep 11, 2015 | Reply

    I was at job interview. The interview ended when we realized what was going on. I didn’t land the job and I didn’t care.

    The response by our great country and the uniting of all our citizens is something I will always remember. We came together as one. We hugged strangers. We held doors for one another. We respected and trusted those who live to protect and rescue us. I don’t wish for another tragedy or war ever again, but it sure would be nice if our citizens would respect one another and respect our law enforcement and first responders like they did post 9/11. They still put their lives on the line everyday.

    Ok,back to football! Can’t believe it’s the “Friday Before he Saints”! Seems like it took forever to get here. Expecting big things this year. Sure is fun being a #BirdGang fan!! Can’t wait for my email from DUrban….. That’s when you know it’s time. It’s here. “It’s the most wonderful time of the year”……..

    Nick Pepe
    Lifetime Member

  4. By Marcelof on Sep 11, 2015 | Reply

    I’ve never been through a situation as devasting as 9/11 – despite my father’s goodbye which is by far not comparable.

    I’m a brazilian #Birdgang fan, and every year by the second week of September We can see from here your passion for your country and your causes, the way you led your life after that unhappy day is – mostly aforementioned by Nick Pepe – enviable. Should we be in a terrible economical situation in Brazil, that is just born, is also because there’s this lack of pride you guys have from the heart.

    I wish I could live there. – I took this exchange program once for a couple of months only – because you deal with culture in a way anyone else in the world does. 9/11 is a day not to be forgoten, you gave the world some good examples, just do not lose track of it.

    Football, even for me – living in soccer’s country – is back.

    Sunday is time for Palmer to Fitz, to Brown, to Nelson, to Floyd (maybe), to Johnsons, to Fells….. I’m really excited. The road to Super Bowl 50 is about to begin.

  5. By Dr. G. on Sep 11, 2015 | Reply

    In the AM of 9/11/01 as I watched the towers succumb to the will of evil, I was hoping that the news channel erred in their programming by airing some new sci-fi movie.

    I had traveled to work there some years earlier with friends who took the Long Island trains daily to their job. Gut-wrenching, speechless, and mind-numbing, I felt immediate blame for Bin Laden, even before proof was established. His evil tentacles reached the towers years before unsuccessfully, but he was successful bombing the USS Cole and many embassies to mention only a few.

    But this time he celebrated beyond his belief, and he continued his terrorism that still lives on… even on our freeways with worthless copy cats. Now our naive politicians shake hands with the leaders of countries that pledge our demise. It is still numbing from what happened and what looms ahead for what our new frenemies have in store… I wear Tillman’s jersey with pride…he was a rare true patriot..later Cards Fans…

  6. By Travis1042 on Sep 11, 2015 | Reply

    I was just a young pup on that day, and remember my parents freaking out. My step-dad running to the sportsman shop, buying as much ammunition, fire starting materials, water purifiers, kerosene, etc. Then, buying a few hundred gallons of both water and gasoline.

    My mom stayed home, filled up both bathtubs full of clean water, started packing non-perishable food, and getting it all ready. I had no idea why they were freaking out – their thought was that we had no clue if, when, where the next plane would hit – or if there were bombs planted throughout the country, or a militant group uprising. We were planning heading to the hills, if something bad was to happen.
    During those scary and depressing times, folks like Pat Tillman stood up to them, and took the fight to them – whilst my parents, and so many others, were planning to run and hide..

    Pat Tillman is a damn amazing hero, and as I started getting older and wiser, I looked up to him.

    R.I.P. Pat Tillman – A True Hero

  7. By Credit Card on Sep 11, 2015 | Reply

    Think of the bravery, sacrifice, and honor that Pat Tillman demonstrated.

    Now think about Brady and Billichick and their honor.

  8. By Scott H on Sep 11, 2015 | Reply

    I live in South Jersey, close to the Philly airport and there are ALWAYS planes passing overhead on their way in. It was SO eerie for those few days when all air traffic was shut down and there were NO planes in the sky. THAT was strange. Funny how you notice something like that when it’s suddenly not there.

    Something else that was pretty amazing was that ( even though I didn’t actually get to see this ), the smoke from the fires in the towers could be seen from the beach even as far south in New Jersey as I am. The wind was taking it south and it could actually be seen from the beaches in South Jersey.

  9. By Eazy E on Sep 12, 2015 | Reply

    I was just in the 5th grade and remember it like it was yesterday! So many terrible events have happened to the U.S. through the years, but fortunately this one we know about. It is horrible to think that some other tragedies we don’t know and may never know about or others that we know about, but don’t give it their just attention!

  10. By dwoofer on Sep 13, 2017 | Reply

    But Obama told us not to remember, but to “serve,” and not think about Muslim terrorism. Doesn’t that work for everybody? Wasn’t he saying this just to help our psyche? Surely not to divert us from the death and terror inflicted on our country and countrymen.

  1. 3 Trackback(s)

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