Pat Tillman
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Pat Tillman made the most selfless decision in 2002 when he stepped away from a lucrative NFL contract to serve in the U.S. Army after the September 11 attacks. Now, 16 years after Tillman was tragically killed in Afghanistan, his name lives on and many around sports honored it on Wednesday.

Tillman emerged as a star in the secondary for the Arizona Cardinals, going from a seventh-round pick in 1998 into becoming one of the NFL’s most feared safeties. Instead of cashing in on a $3.6 million deal in the 2002 offseason, he enlisted in the Army.

At the time, the decision shocked many because Tillman was just entering the prime of his career and walking away from a sizable contract. As he explained, in words that live on nearly two decades later, Tillman wanted to do something and he followed his heart to serve.

Tragically, Tillman was killed by friendly fire on April 22, 2004 at the age of 27. Now 16 years after his death, the football world honored Tillman’s legacy on Wednesday and remembered him for his iconic actions, voice and sacrifice.

Matt Johnson
NFL, MLB & college football writer for Sportsnaut. Graduated from San Diego State University with BA in Journalism, 2019. Grew up in Sacramento, now based in Indianapolis. Seen on MSN. Previously: eDraft, The Connection, With the First Pick