NOTE: This story was originally posted just before the Arizona Cardinals played the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl. I wrote it because I thought that Pat Tillman was the ultimate warrior, both on the field and in the military. With today being Memorial Day, I find it a fitting time to re-run it, despite the Cardinals loss, which would have made this an even better story had they emerged victorious. While not ever forgetting the ultimate sacrifices the men and women of the service have made for this country, I specifically want to remind everyone of the opportunity that Tillman left behind as a professinal football player as he went to fight for America's freedoms alongside of his brother and fellow soldiers.
So, remember, never forget, respect....Semper Fi! (Bruce Raffel)
I'm virtually certain all of the Beatdown's readership remembers the former Arizona Cardinal and US Army Ranger, who gave up a multi-million dollar pro football contract to follow his older brother into the Rangers and was subsequently killed in action by "friendly fire" over in Afghanistan in 2004.
Tillman was a hard hitting safety on the Arizona Cardinals, on his way to a Pro Bowl career, when he decided to give it all up and join the fight to protect our freedoms after being deeply affected by the events of September 11, 2001. He was a fun loving square jawed guy with blond hair and hit opposing players like a linebacker, the position he played in college at Arizona State University.
He joined the Rangers in late 2002 with his brother Kevin, who gave up an opportunity to play professional baseball when enlisting as well. Together they were deployed initially to Iraq and then to Afghanistan where he was accidently shot by his fellow troops on April 22, 2004. The initial reports was that Tillman was killed while on patrol and was heroically defending his fellow Rangers by putting himself in the line of fire. After a thorough investigation that is still not totally clear, clouded in dispute and full of questions, it was determined that he was shot by a fellow soldier in the confusion of a nearby detonation of an explosive device. There are also reports through the autopsy that some evidence points to the fact that he was hit at close range with three shots to the forehead, suggesting that Pat Tillman might have been murdered by a fellow Ranger. A huge investigation of the apparent cover up has followed and the exact nature of his death has brought his family additional unnecessary grief in their horrible loss.
Either way, regardless of the exact circumstances surrounding his death, Pat Tillman should serve as inspiration of what America is all about. Football is a great game, but it is without a doubt a game. War is real and it took a hero like Pat Tillman to put it in better perspective for so many of us. I was moved to purchase a replica jersey of his, to which a portion of the funds go to charitable causes of him and his family. I will be wearing that #40 Arizona Cardinals jersey this Sunday while I root for many of his former teammates to attain what was his goal in professional football, but certainly not his main goal in life.
May God bless Pat Tillman and his family. GO CARDINALS!!!