Pat Tillman To Receive 2006 Distinguished American Award From The National Football Foundation And College Hall Of Fame
May 25, 2006
Morristown, N.J. - Former Sun Devil Pat Tillman has been awarded the 2006 Distinguised American Award by the National College Football Foundation and the College Hall of Fame. Presented on special occasions when a truly deserving individual emerges, the award honors someone who has applied the character building attributes learned from amateur sport in their business and personal life, exhibitingsuperior leadership qualities in education, amateur athletics, business andin the community.
Pat Tillman was an outstanding football player and scholar who left theNational Football League as a young star to enlist in the military followingthe September 11 attacks. He lost his life during a combat mission inAfghanistan.
'It is a tremendous honor for the National Football Foundation and CollegeHall of Fame to recognize Pat for his leadership qualities and place him inthe prestigious company of the previous recipients. Thank you forcelebrating Pat's life and honoring his legacy,' said Marie Tillman, Pat'swidow and chairman of the board for the Pat Tillman Foundation.
As a linebacker at Arizona State University, the 5-11 Tillman was thePacific-10 Conference's Defensive Player of the Year, Second TeamAll-America and Academic All-America in 1997. He graduated summa cum laudein 3 academic years with a 3.84 grade point average, earning a degree inmarketing.
The 226th player selected in the 1998 NFL Draft, Tillman quickly became astarter for the Arizona Cardinals and helped lead them to the 1998 playoffs,their only appearance in 51 years. Tillman set a Cardinals record with 224tackles in 2000 and warmed up for the 2003 training camp by competing in a70.2-mile triathlon.
The attacks on September 11 compelled Tillman to try to make a differenceoff the football field, and he turned down a multi-million dollar contractwith the Cardinals to enlist in the Army in 2002.
'My great grandfather was at Pearl Harbor, and a lot of my family has ...gone and fought in wars, and I really haven't done a damn thing as far aslaying myself on the line like that,' Tillman told NBC News in an interviewthe day after the attacks.
Pat enlisted with his brother Kevin Tillman -- who also is a highly regardedathlete, having once been a minor league baseball prospect in the ClevelandIndians' organization. Both denied requests for media coverage during theirbasic training and ultimate deployments. The brothers both successfullycompleted training for the Rangers, the Army's elite infantry regiment. PatTillman was first deployed to Iraq in March 2003 and then sent toAfghanistan, where he served in the same unit with his brother.
On April 22, 2004, as a member of the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment,based at Fort Lewis, Wash, Tillman was killed in action. The battalion wasinvolved in Operation Mountain Storm in Southeastern Afghanistan, part ofthe U.S. campaign against the Al Qaeda terror network and the former Talibangovernment along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. U.S. military spokesmenstated that Tillman was killed in a firefight at about 7 p.m. on a road nearSperah, about 25 miles southwest of a U.S. base at Khost.
Arizona State University retired his #42 jersey and the Arizona Cardinalshave funded a scholarship program in his honor. In 2004, he wasposthumously awarded the Purple Heart, a Silver Star and the United State'sSports Academy Humanitarian Award. The military order of the Purple Heartnamed an award after him, the Pat Tillman Patriot Award. In addition, thePacific-10 conference named their defensive player of the year award afterhim.
Tillman will become the award's 35th recipient, joining a list that includesVince Lombardi, Bob Hope, Jimmy Stewart, Pete Rozelle and Tom Osborne.