This is an intersting story that has been big news today locally.
Safety to give up NFL life for the Army
By MEL REISNER
AP Sports Writer
May 24, 2002
PHOENIX (AP) -- There won't be any fancy logos on Pat Tillman's new helmet.
The Arizona Cardinals safety made a stunning revelation Thursday -- he is putting his four-year NFL career on hold to join the Army, a move spurred by the military's age limit on candidates for the elite Rangers program.
The 25-year-old defensive back has an unlisted number, and could not be reached for comment. But he broke the news to the Cardinals the day before and convinced them he was serious.
``It's very personal, and I honor that,'' coach Dave McGinnis said. ``I honor the integrity of that. It was not a snap decision he woke up and made yesterday. This has been an ongoing process, and he feels very strongly about it.''
Tillman also spoke with owner Bill Bidwill and defensive coordinator Larry Marmie in separate interviews.
McGinnis kept most of his discussion with the two-year starter to himself, but said Tillman wanted to go through boot camp with his younger brother, Kevin, an infielder who spent last year with the Cleveland Indians' organization.
Tillman might be the first NFL regular to leave for military service since World War II. Pittsburgh running back Rocky Bleier was wounded in Vietnam before he went on to star for the Steelers, but few have chosen the reverse route.
Tillman married his high school sweetheart two weeks ago, and agent Frank Bauer said when the couple left on a honeymoon for Bora Bora, he expected some kind of decision on the Cardinals' multiyear offer to retain their free agent -- but not that decision.
``He called me as soon as he got back from Bora Bora and said, 'Frank, I'm going in the military. I want to get into special forces.''' Bauer said. ``In 21 years as an agent, I've seen a lot of guys do some things, so I said, 'Pat, do it afterward. When you're 50 years old and you have a lot of money in the bank, you'll realize it was a good move.'
``He said, 'Frank, I don't have time for that. There are age restrictions on what I want to do.'''
The oldest a man can join the Army Rangers is 28.
Bauer called Tillman a deep and clear thinker who has never valued material things.
Last year, Tillman turned down a $9 million, five-year offer sheet from the St. Louis Rams out of loyalty to the Cardinals, and by joining the Army, he will pass on millions more from the team.
``He doesn't have a cellphone,'' Bauer said. ``He's the type of guy that, when I met him, he was riding a bike. He's an amazing kid. He would never moan and groan over what some other player was making.''
He said newlywed Marie Tillman supports her husband's decision to leave one rugged profession for a more dangerous one.
The 5-foot-11, 200-pound Tillman has always been 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.
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.
``The guy has got something to him, and that's why I wanted him on the team all these years,'' McGinnis said.