You’re a red blooded, apple pie eatin’, patriotic American you say? What kind of sacrifice would you be willing to make for this country? Would you give up a career worth millions of dollars, cohabited with fame?
I’ll answer for you. Probably not.
However, a gentleman by the name of Pat Tillman did. Tillman gave up a promising NFL career that would have paid tens of millions of dollars throughout an entire career had he stayed– instead chose to serve this great nation after the 9-11 terrorist attacks. He was, and still is, a shining embodiment of loyalty, heart, spirit, and unparalleled patriotism. Basically, any and all things good. A man that the rest of us can only strive to become, but will fall short at every attempt.
Pat Tillman began his journey to the NFL in Fremont, CA where he was born and was the oldest of three boys. There, he played H.S. Football at Leland High and have a good enough career to get recruited by Arizona State University.
Pat stood at 5 foot 11 inches tall and weighed in around 200 pounds. Why is that so significant? He played linebacker. The average height and weight for a collegiate linebacker is roughly 6’1/ 223 pounds. Yet Tillman still excelled, winning Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year in 1997 prior to the 1998 NFL Draft where he was selected in the 7th round by the Arizona Cardinals.
Entering into the NFL, Tillman moved positions from linebacker to safety which led to a selection of Sports Illustrated Dr. Z’s NFL All-Pro team in 2000 while accumulating 184 tackles, 3 interceptions, 12 pass deflections, 1 forced fumble, 3 fumble recoveries, and 2.5 sacks over his short 4 year career.
At the end of the 2001-2002 NFL season, his rookie contract was up. The Arizona Cardinals offered a 3 year/ 3.6 million dollar deal and the St. Louis Rams offered a 5 year/ 9 million dollar deal. Which did he take? Neither.
Patrick Daniel Tillman turned down millions to enlist in the United States Army to become an Army Ranger at the end of the season after the awful 9-11 attacks.
This decision led to the ultimate sacrifice. Tillman gave his life to this great nation on April 22, 2004 at the young age of 27 due to friendly fire while serving in Spera, Khost Province, Afghanistan. Post death, his wife would receive awards of the Silver Star, a Purple Heart, and a Meritorious Service Medal on his behalf.
Pat is just one man, who made decisions that he felt were greater than himself. To him, he wasn’t giving up millions– it was his civic duty to give back to this country in a time of need.
Just like millions of others– whether they be, plumbers, electricians, businessmen, etc. Many have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms and way of life. Many more have came back mangled and now struggle with mental health. Thank a veteran. Shake their hand, and show a sign of acknowledgment.
This particular acknowledgement goes out to Pat Tillman and his family. Thank you and we will never forget the sacrifice that Pat has made.