April 22, 2021 marks the 17-year anniversary of the tragic death of Arizona Cardinals and Arizona State Sun Devils legend Pat Tillman by friendly fire in Afghanistan.
As a player, Tillman was a star linebacker at Arizona State and played safety for the Cardinals. He was a seventh-round draft pick in the 1998 NFL Draft and started 10 games as a rookie.
On top of his stellar play on the field, Tillman became renown for his loyalty to the Cardinals. He reportedly turned down a sizeable contract offer with another team just to stay in Arizona.
But after the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Tillman put his NFL career on hold at the age of 25 to join the U.S. Army Rangers. He was later deployed to Afghanistan, where he would lose his life in a highly controversial friendly fire sortie.
Tributes have poured in for Tillman today from outlets all over the country.
On this day in 2004, Pat Tillman was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) April 22, 2021
Pat Tillman left the Arizona Cardinals to enlist in the U.S. Army after 9/11. He turned down a $3.6M contract offer at 25 years old.
Tillman was killed in Afghanistan 17 years ago today.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 22, 2021
— Michael Signora (@NFLfootballinfo) April 22, 2021
17 years gone, but never forgotten. 💛
Pat Tillman will always have a special place in Sun Devil hearts: A leader, teammate, student, friend. #PT42 🔱
📹: 2018 pic.twitter.com/2lhWzAZs6v
— Arizona State University (@ASU) April 22, 2021
In three years at Arizona State, Pat Tillman had seven interceptions and a touchdown. With the Cardinals, he recorded 374 tackles, 2.5 sacks, five tackles for loss, three interceptions, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and 15 passes defended.
To commemorate Tillman, Arizona State and the Cardinals both retired his jersey number. The Cardinals inducted him into their Ring of Honor in 2006. The Pac-12 renamed their Defensive Player of the Year award to honor him.
Our hearts go out to the Tillman family on this day of mourning.
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