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Ex-NFL Player Tillman Killed in Afghanistan Firefight

Old 04-23-2004, 01:57 PM
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Unhappy Ex-NFL Player Tillman Killed in Afghanistan Firefight

Ex-NFL Player Tillman Killed in Afghanistan Firefight

Had Joined Army Rangers Following Sept. 11 Attacks

WASHINGTON (April 23) -- Pat Tillman was killed in Afghanistan after walking away from a multimillion-dollar NFL contract to join the Army Rangers, U.S. officials said.

A U.S. official told Reuters that Tillman, who was 27, died in a firefight.

Although the military had not officially confirmed his death, the White House put out a statement of sympathy that praised Tillman as "an inspiration both on an off the football field."

Former Cardinals head coach Dave McGinnis said he felt both overwhelming sorrow and tremendous pride in Tillman, who "represented all that was good in sports."

"Pat knew his purpose in life," McGinnis said. "He proudly walked away from a career in football to a greater calling."

Several of Tillman's friends have said the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks influenced his decision to enlist.

Lt. Col. Matt Beevers, a spokesman for the U.S. military in Kabul, confirmed that a U.S. soldier was killed Thursday evening, but would not say whether it was Tillman.

He said the soldier died after a firefight with anti-coalition militia forces about 25 miles southwest of a U.S. military base at Khost, which has been the scene of frequent attacks.

Two other U.S. soldiers on the combat patrol were injured, and an Afghan soldier fighting alongside the Americans was killed.

Arizona Sen. John McCain noted that Tillman declined to speak publicly about his decision to put his NFL career on hold.

"He viewed his decision as no more patriotic than that of his less fortunate, less renowned countrymen who loved our country enough to volunteer to defend her in a time of peril," McCain, a Republican, said in a statement.

U.S. officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said a formal announcement was expected later in the day. Spokesmen at the Pentagon and U.S. Army declined comment.

Tillman played four seasons with the Cardinals before enlisting in the Army in May 2002. The safety turned down a three-year, $3.6 million deal from Arizona.

He made the decision after returning from his honeymoon with his wife, Marie.

"He knew what was important to him, and he made his decision and stood by it," said quarterback Eli Manning, expected to be a top pick in Saturday's NFL Draft.

Tillman's brother, Kevin, a former minor league baseball prospect in the Cleveland Indians' organization, also joined the Rangers and served in the Middle East. They committed to three-year stints in the Army.

Some 110 U.S. soldiers have died -- 39 of them in combat -- during Operation Enduring Freedom, which began in Afghanistan last year.

Tillman's agent, Frank Bauer, has called him a deep and clear thinker who has never valued material things.

In 2001, Tillman turned down a $9 million, five-year offer sheet from the Super Bowl champion St. Louis Rams out of loyalty to the Cardinals, and by joining the Army, he passed on millions more from the team.

Tillman turned aside interview requests after joining the Army. In December, during a trip home, he made a surprise visit to his Cardinal teammates.

"For all the respect and love that all of us have for Pat Tillman and his brother and Marie, for what they did and the sacrifices they made... believe me, if you have a chance to sit down and talk with them, that respect and that love and admiration increase tenfold," McGinnis said at the time.

It was not immediately clear when he went to Afghanistan.

The 5-foot-11, 200-pound Tillman was distinguished by his intelligence and appetite for rugged play. As an undersized linebacker at Arizona State, he was the Pac-10's defensive player of the year in 1997.

He set a franchise record with 224 tackles in 2000 and warmed up for last year's training camp by competing in a 70.2-mile triathlon in June.

"Pat knew his purpose in life. He proudly walked away from a career in football to a greater calling."
-Former Arizona Cardinals coach Dave McGinnis

Tillman carried a 3.84 grade-point average through college and graduated with high honors in 3 1/2 academic years with a degree in marketing.

"You don't find guys that have that combination of being as bright and as tough as him," Phil Snow, who coached Tillman as Arizona State's defensive coordinator, said in 2002. "This guy could go live in a foxhole for a year by himself with no food."

Tillman and his brother Kevin last year won the Arthur Ashe Courage award at the 11th annual ESPY Awards.

04/23/04 13:01 EDT
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Old 04-23-2004, 02:05 PM
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Default would like everyone to join in saluting our troops because "They do what they do so that we can do what we do".

The staff of KTD Broadcasting's hearts and blessings go out to all our troops and their families for the sacrifices they make for us everyday.

Please bless our troops everyday that you live in this wonderful country.
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Old 04-23-2004, 03:13 PM
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I've been listening to the story all morning on sports radio. I remember when he announced he was giving up his career and joining the Rangers. He didn't do it for the publicity. He never did one interview after making the decision. Wolf Blitzer from CNN flew over to interview him, and he declined, saying "that's not this is all about". He sacrificed his career, then made the ultimate sacrifice for the love of his country. A true patriot, and someone we can all learn something from. Prayers to his family, and thank you for having him defend our freedoms.
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Old 04-23-2004, 03:45 PM
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THAT is a fine example of patriotism. Once again, someone willing to give up everything so that we can do what we do freely in the USA.
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Old 04-23-2004, 10:39 PM
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Sad Sad Story This country needs more people like him.
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Old 04-23-2004, 10:49 PM
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I will repeat what I wrote on the other thread about Pat Tillman.

Pat Tillliman is a warrior. Thank you Pat for going in harms way so that I may sit at home and be safe. God Speed.
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Old 04-23-2004, 10:59 PM
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Pat was a true hero in my eyes. He gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

God Bless...
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Old 04-23-2004, 11:11 PM
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I'm thinking a little more about this. Pat Tillman IS the AMERICAN BADASS that Kid Rock talks about. If we all had the same heart....
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Old 04-24-2004, 12:20 AM
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It is obviously a sad, sad story on the surface, but in a larger sense it is really the 'American Dream' for all the world to see. Like others have said, it's why we can enjoy what we (and I mean ME) take for granted everyday in this country. An incredible ((truly unbelievable)) display of unselfishness and a person we can all respect, appreciate, and love. His parents, kids (if they had any), friends should be proud and honored to have known and raised such a man. My kids will know who this hero was and what sacrifice really means.

Thank you Pat Tillman.
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Old 04-24-2004, 12:21 AM
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God Bless and rest in peace Pat and all our brave Military who died keeping us safe.
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