- Height: 5'11"
- Weight: 202lbs
- Date of birth: November 6, 1976
- Birthplace: San Jose, CA
- High School: Leland
- College: Arizona State
- NFL Debut: 1998
- Final Game: 2001
- Position: Defensive Back
In a few short years, Pat Tillman was transformed from athlete, professional football player and soldier to iconic, if controversial, symbol of patriotism and loyalty. His death in Afghanistan in 2004 was clouded in controversy-the result either of accidental "friendly fire" or outright murder by a member of his Army battalion.
Tillman was a linebacker at Arizona State University and an A student who helped his team reach the 1997 Rose Bowl game. The Arizona Cardinals drafted him in 1998 and converted him to safety. In 2000, he set a new team record for tackles with 155 and was named to the Sports Illustrated NFL All-Pro team. Tillman demonstrated his fealty to the Cardinals in 2001 by turning down a five-year, $9 million contract offer from the St. Louis Rams.
Later that year, the September 11 attacks would take Tillman's life down a fatal road, when he turned down a contract offer of $3.6 million over three years from the Cardinals to enlist in the U.S. Army. Tillman and his brother trained to become Army Rangers and Tillman was sent first to Iraq, then in 2004, to Afghanistan. Tillman was killed in action on April 22, 2004, under murky circumstances. Initial reports that he was killed in an ambush by Afghan guerrillas ushered in eulogies from politicians and the press, who rushed to declare Tillman a hero. (The Army awarded him the Silver Star and the Purple Heart.) Not long thereafter, reports surfaced that blamed his death on friendly fire during a clash with enemy forces. Still later it was suggested that there were no hostile troops involved. On July 26, 2007, the Associated Press received official documents stating that the investigating doctors performing the autopsy suspected that Tillman was deliberately murdered. Other newspaper stories reported that Tillman had made comments critical of the Iraq war. Although former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld testified in August 2007 that there was no evidence suggesting an Army cover-up of Tillman's death, in 2006 the U.S. Defense Department Inspector General had directed the Army to open a criminal investigation of Tillman's death to determine if it was the result of negligent homicide.
Career Highlights, Awards, and Accolades:
- 2000 Sports Illustrated All-Star team
- Career totals of 331 tackles (242 solo)