Pat’s Run and Tillman anniversary

Posted by Darren Urban on April 22, 2017 – 6:58 am

It’s a weird morning for me. For the first time in more than a decade, I am not at ASU, getting ready to take part in Pat’s Run. I did not participate in the first race, but I had run every one since then until today, and that had been the plan (I have a bib and everything). But a trip to spend some time with my brother – which I don’t get to do enough – came up, and sometimes, life happens.

I would’ve liked to be there, especially this year. The race falls on the anniversary of Pat Tillman’s death 13 years ago. I remember that morning – I was still a Cardinals beat writer for the East Valley Tribune – vividly. I was in the kitchen, bathrobe on, toddlers eating breakfast on a Friday when my cell phone rang. A producer I knew a little from a local station was calling to ask if I had heard that Tillman had been killed. I, like everyone, was stunned.

It was the day before the draft – that’s when the draft was still Saturday-Sunday, and the Cardinals would select Larry Fitzgerald with the third overall pick the next morning – but everyone gathered at the Cardinals’ Tempe training facility. It was supposed to be that last day before the draft, when guessing who got picked where was the topic, and instead, the organization was crushed. Former Tillman teammate Pete Kendall was asked to speak to the media, along with Michael Bidwill and Anthony Edwards. Meanwhile, Dennis Green was around but he didn’t look like he knew quite what to do – he was hired after Tillman was long gone; he had no personal connection unlike almost every other non-coach still in the organization.

These are the kind of things that are going through my head every year as Pat’s Run starts. I’m sorry I’m going to miss it.

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Mathieu the official starter for Pat’s Run

Posted by Darren Urban on April 22, 2016 – 10:27 am

Tyrann Mathieu had thought about taking part in the annual Pat’s Run in the past, but injuries have gotten in the way — including this year, after tearing his ACL late last season. But the all-pro safety will still be there bright and early Saturday morning on the campus of Arizona State University, serving as the official starter to the 4.2-mile race that honors the legacy of former Cardinals safety Pat Tillman.

“It’s a tremendous honor,” Mathieu said. “I was speechless when they came to me. Obviously I know about Pat and his story, how he sacrificed and what he gave for this country and what he gave for this team. For me to be the starter at his run, it means everything.

“It’s a good thing for me to go out there and just be a part of it.”

Even though the race is tomorrow, there is still time to sign up if you do it today. Go here for details. (I too will be running the race, my 11th Pat’s Run.) Someday, Mathieu — sporting this year’s race shirt in the picture below (thanks Bruce Yeung) — will do more than start the other athletes.

“Hopefully next year,” Mathieu said, pausing to knock on the wood of his locker, “I can run in it.”


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Another great Pat’s Run

Posted by Darren Urban on April 25, 2015 – 12:59 pm

Pat’s Run was this morning, and it couldn’t have gone much better. The weather was perfect, some 30,000 runners were on hand, and a ton of money was raised. A handful of Cardinals were on hand — Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson, Lorenzo Alexander, Rashad Johnson and Justin Bethel (pictured below, with me and VP of media relations Mark Dalton) as well as former Card Jay Feely as official starter. Ambitiously, video gurus Tim DeLaney and Coby Rich ran alongside players with (heavy) camera equipment for what should be a couple of good videos down the road, so be on the lookout for them.

And if you haven’t had a chance to take part in Pat’s Run, consider doing it next year. It’s only 4.2 miles. You have plenty of time to get ready.


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Another successful Pat’s Run

Posted by Darren Urban on April 20, 2013 – 10:49 am

It was a great evening and morning for Pat’s Run. First was the Peter King Tweetup at Tom’s Tavern Friday night, which went well and raised $10,000 to fund a Tillman Foundation scholarship. Pat’s widow Marie was on hand, King did a Q and A session with Michael Bidwill, Steve Keim and Bruce Arians, and some players mingled around to cap the evening. (Here’s a photo gallery of the event, and a hat tip to media relations VP Mark Dalton, who helped get it off the ground. There was a lot of work by many that went into such a smooth operation.)

Then this morning was the always great Pat’s Run. It’s a lot more crowded than it once was, but it’s for such a good cause and more importantly, everybody there is so happy to be there and taking part. If you have never done it, you should. It doesn’t matter if you can run or want to run. No one is disappointed when they cross the finish line in Sun Devil Stadium. It’s a rush whether you push yourself hard or merely “wog” (walking and jogging) your way there. Hey, if Fitz can do it after working out all week — there he is finishing below, along with fellow receiver Kerry Taylor in the red shirt behind him — you can too.


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It’s about the video, not the workouts

Posted by Darren Urban on April 19, 2013 – 3:52 pm

General Manager Steve Keim mentioned yesterday about the fine line evaluating players and, more specifically, not wanting to overevaluate them. With so much time between the end of the season and the draft, that is a concern.

But both he and coach Bruce Arians agree it is the play on the college football field above all else that should be driving these player grades.

“I don’t grade anybody down at the (Scouting) combine,” Arians said. “The tape doesn’t lie. If a guy plays football fast and doesn’t run fast at the combine, that means he carries his pads pretty well. … I don’t believe in working out in shorts because the game is not played in shorts.”

Keim, not surprisingly, referred back to Anquan Boldin — he of the relatively slow 40 time when he was at the combine in 2003 (the 4.7 range) — and yet became a Pro Bowl receiver from his first game in the NFL.

“As much as combine numbers mean to you, and sometimes our guys will get enamored with a guy who ran a (tremendous) 6.55 three-cone, you have to remind them, unfortunately, at 1 o’clock on Sunday, we don’t get to run a three-cone drill,” Keim said, adding that the evaluator has to ask, “What are his compensating abilities” for whatever shortcomings he might have.

That doesn’t mean someone with an impressive combine gets thrown out, even if his stats weren’t great in college. Again, the evaluation is about what the team sees on video. Production counts but it isn’t the whole picture. The player had to have shown something in real games. It sounds simple. But every team doesn’t always adhere to it.

— Really good read from Josh Weinfuss collecting an oral history of various Cardinals players from their time around the draft.

— Safety James Sanders, who wasn’t going to return this year after his one year on the Cardinals, has been suspended the first four games of the NFL season.

— And with that, I am headed to this evening’s Tweetup with SI’s Peter King, Arians, Keim and a host of players downtown at Tom’s Tavern as we raise funds for a Tillman Foundation scholarship. Tomorrow, I’ll be running in Pat’s Run at ASU. Hope to see some of you.

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Tillman weekend arrives again

Posted by Darren Urban on April 17, 2013 – 5:11 pm

I’ve written the story before (and my vivid memories of hearing about Pat Tillman’s death, right before the draft in 2004, are chronicled right here). But with the annual Pat’s Run coming up again Saturday, it’s automatic for me to think once again of covering Tillman for the couple of seasons that I did and then his famous story of leaving the NFL for what he saw as a more important calling.

The events in Boston this week, regardless of what (adjective deleted) person did it, again seem to shine a spotlight on what Tillman and (hopefully) all of us believe — which is that we are lucky to live where we live and that as a country we band together in moments like this. I know the organizers of Pat’s Run are taking extra precautions given what happened in Boston’s race, but really, I haven’t thought twice about whether I will still run or not. Of course I will.

I’ve heard from some of late who want to point out that Tillman wasn’t the only soldier to lose his life sacrificing for this country. They are frustrated he is the one always talked about. There is no question there are many others who lost their lives doing the same. But this race is done for the Tillman Foundation, and Pat and his legacy are the reason it exists. It doesn’t take away from any other soldier that this race takes place or garners publicity. The money raised helps veterans. That’s a good cause.

(Speaking of good causes, if you want to take part in the Tillman Tweetup Friday night to raise money for a Tillman Foundation scholarship, tickets are still available for the chance to meet Bruce Arians, Steve Keim and players like Patrick Peterson and Sam Acho. Click here for all the details. I’ll be there too.)

In a week where the real world has invaded sports, it’s a fitting time to remember one of the best examples of the two worlds coming together.

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Tweetup with Peter King, the Cardinals and Pat’s Run

Posted by Darren Urban on April 1, 2013 – 6:07 am

After many years of saying he wanted to do it and never quite making it out to Tempe, Sports Illustrated NFL writer Peter King is finally taking part in Pat’s Run later this month. And with it comes a little something extra the night before.

(It’s all right within his column that also has King too thinking Carson Palmer-to-Arizona will happen, which makes sense to me in some way, shape or form.)

King will be hosting a super-sized Tweetup Friday night, April 19th, at Tom’s Tavern downtown. King has hosted a handful of Tweetups before (for the Twitter non-initiated, a Tweetup is a gathering set up with Twitter followers), most notably at the Scouting combine in Indianapolis the past few years. King wanted to do a Tweetup to somehow benefit the Pat Tillman Foundation if he was going to come out and run the race. The Cardinals are helping him do that.

King’s goal is to raise enough money to fund a Tillman Foundation scholarship. Tickets for the event are $40 — space is limited to 250 people — but it has an impressive lineup of Tweetup events:

— Food: Happy hour & carb-loading (pasta) stations
— Two drink tickets – redeemable for house wine & draft beer (other drink options  available for purchase w proceeds benefiting Pat Tillman Foundation)
— Football discussion/Q&A moderated by King with Cardinals President Michael Bidwill, new GM Steve Keim and new head coach Bruce Arians
— Cardinals cheerleaders & Big Red to attend plus cameos from Cardinals players (Who exactly is still TBD)
— Auction items/raffles to benefit the Pat Tillman Foundation.

The Tweetup will be from 5-7 p.m. Got to get to bed early for the 7 a.m. race, right? (I’ll be running. Will you?)

Tickets go on sale this morning via phone (602) 379-0102 and at both Cardinals box office locations in Tempe and Glendale, with 100 percent of the proceeds going directly to the Pat Tillman Foundation. With phone orders through April 6th, tickets can be mailed out. After that, tickets must be picked up at a box office prior to 3 p.m. on April 19th.

If you want to follow Peter on Twitter, he’s at @SI_PeterKing. You can follow me at @cardschatter, and the team account is @AzCardinals. And if you want to take part in this Tweetup — whether you are on Twitter or not, if you are running in Pat’s Run or not, make the call.


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Remembering Tillman

Posted by Darren Urban on April 20, 2012 – 1:49 pm

My wife asked me last night, in the course of a conversation, if Pat Tillman and Larry Fitzgerald had ever been teammates. No, I told her. Tillman was killed the day before Fitz was drafted by the Cardinals.

Obviously draft time jars some Tillman memories. So too does the fact Pat’s Run — the annual 4.2-mile jaunt around and in Sun Devil Stadium, which sold out with an astounding 28,000 people this year — will be tomorrow. I’m taking part for the seventh straight year, part of a group of us from the Cards that includes coach Ken Whisenhunt.

I won’t go into my Tillman anecdotes yet again. If you want, you can read about them here, or read about how Pat joined the Army here, or watch his famous interview he gave the day after 9/11 here. Safe to say I was lucky enough to have crossed paths with him, and while he wasn’t perfect, he stood for a lot of honorable things. That’s why I’ll be running tomorrow, and that’s why, next Thursday night, I’ll be think back to that Friday morning in April, 2004, when I got the call at home that Tillman had lost his life.

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For Tillman, out there doing

Posted by Darren Urban on April 16, 2011 – 10:12 am

The last person I’d ever connect to a corporation’s slogan is Pat Tillman. But knowing what I know/knew about Pat, and while out taking part in the annual Pat’s Run this morning, it was hard not to think “Just Do It.”

There were something like 28,000 people out around Arizona State taking part, and that’s just the Arizona version of the event. But in the spirit of Pat, running 4.2 miles isn’t what it is all about. It’s getting out and doing something, anything, that makes you push yourself to something you wouldn’t normally do. Doesn’t have to be athletic/exercise-related. Get out of your comfort zone. Again, push yourself. That’s the best way to honor Tillman, who — whether it was getting to the NFL, taking part in triathlons or joining the military — was always pushing himself.

Just do it.

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