Today would have been Pat Tillman’s 37th birthday.
Happy birthday, sir.
I shouldn’t need to put this date in my phone as a reminder, but I do, because it would be shameful to forget. Tillman was an Army Ranger serving in Afghanistan when he was killed in April, 2004. Before that, he was a safety for the Arizona Cardinals.
(The Broncos are known for their commitment to honoring the military, as you can see in this column.)
A few weeks ago, I asked John Fox about Tillman. The Broncos coach had known Tillman from his days in the NFL. Fox, who is not here at Dove Valley today as he recovers from heart surgery, has visited the Pat Tillman USO Center in Afghanistan.
“To stand there in the USO Center for Pat Tillman, having known Pat, that was something you never forget,” Fox said. “After 9-11, his commitment, what he did… he made a life-changing commitment.”
In 2002, Tillman ditched his NFL career to enlist in the Army. You know the story. Fox was with the Giants at the time and told me the Broncos’ trip to New York in September summoned memories of a tragic day.
“We were in the same division with the Giants when that happened. I was in New York during 9-11. That’s as vivid of a memory in my adult life as I have is that Tuesday, Sept. 11,” Fox said. “We were actually flying into Newark from Denver when that happened. It was the day of. We landed about 8:30 in the morning and then all hell broke loose.”