Today, we’re peeling back the layers on the enigmatic Pat Tillman. Known to most as the NFL player who left a promising career to serve in the U.S. Army after 9/11, Tillman’s life was tragically cut short in Afghanistan, but beyond his famous decision and ultimate sacrifice, there’s so much more to his story. Let’s dive into ten lesser-known facts about this incredible individual.
High School Sweethearts
Pat wasn’t just a man of commitment on the field. He married his high school sweetheart, Marie. Their love story began at Leland High School in San Jose, and the two were inseparable until his untimely passing.
Football wasn’t Pat’s only game. At Arizona State University, he excelled as a linebacker, but during his high school years, he also shined in baseball and basketball.
Brains and brawn? Absolutely. Pat graduated Summa Cum Laude from Arizona State University with a 3.84 GPA, majoring in marketing.
He might’ve had a face for the big screen. Oliver Stone once considered making a movie about Tillman’s life and his decision to enlist, but the project was eventually shelved.
The Great Outdoors
Tillman was an avid outdoorsman. From rock climbing to marathon running, his passion for the outdoors was as fierce as his dedication on the gridiron.
Charitable At Heart
Even before his military service, Tillman had a heart for others. He often turned down endorsement deals, believing that the money could be used for better causes.
Selflessness in Service
In an even more remarkable display of his character, Tillman turned down a three-year, $3.6 million contract from the Cardinals to enlist in the Army. He believed it was his duty to serve, asking for no special treatment during his service.
Vegetarian and Voracious Reader
Tillman was a vegetarian and an avid reader. He’d often engage teammates in deep philosophical discussions, his locker filled with books ranging from history to theology.
Briefly Played For The Browns
Before joining the Cardinals, Tillman was drafted by the Cleveland Browns. However, he turned down their offer, choosing to play closer to home.
Legacy Lives On
In 2004, Marie Tillman helped launch the Pat Tillman Foundation, which offers academic scholarships to military veterans and their spouses. A testament to his dedication to both education and service.
Remembering No. 40
The number 40 jersey might be retired by the Arizona Cardinals, but Pat Tillman’s legacy transcends sports. Whether you remember him as a fierce competitor on the field or a selfless soldier off it, one thing is clear: his impact continues to resonate.