Statements from NFL, U.S. officials on Tillman

Updated: April 23, 2004, 11:59 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Former Cardinals coach Dave McGinnis
"This is a painful day for the Tillman family and my condolences go out to them. I have known Pat since 1998 and I don't know if I have ever met a more dedicated person in my lifetime. He represented all that was good in sports, bringing passion, honor, integrity and dignity to the game.

"Pat knew his purpose in life. He proudly walked away from a career in football to a greater calling, which was to protect and defend our country. Pat represents those who have and will make the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. I am overwhelmed with a sense of sorrow, but I also feel a tremendous feeling of pride for him and his service. He was not the first and won't be the last to give his life for his country. He always shunned the limelight and I am sure he would want that continued, but his life deserves to be celebrated and for his story to be told.

"He and the people he served with are what make this country such a special place. It was an honor to be his friend and coach and I will miss him."


Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
"I am heartbroken today by the news of Pat Tillman's death. The tragic loss of this extraordinary young man will seem a heavy blow to our nation's morale, as it is surely a grievous injury to his loved ones.

"Many American families have suffered the same terrible sacrifice that Pat's family must now bear, and the patriotism that their loved ones' exemplified is as fine and compelling as Pat's. But there is in Pat Tillman's example, in his unexpected choice of duty to his country over the riches and other comforts of celebrity, and in his humility, such an inspiration to all of us to reclaim the essential public-spiritedness of Americans that many of us, in low moments, had worried was no longer our common distinguishing trait.

"When Pat made his choice to leave the NFL and became an Army Ranger, he declined requests for interviews because he viewed his decision as no more patriotic than that of his less fortunate, less renowned countrymen who loved our country enough to volunteer to defend her in a time of peril. It is that first lesson of patriotism that we should reaffirm in our own lives as we celebrate the courageous life and mourn the heroic death of this most honorable American."


Gene Upshaw, executive director of the NFL Players Association
"All NFL players mourn the tragic and untimely death of Pat Tillman, one of our own. His courage and heart transcended football and we will miss him. Pat Tillman is a true American hero. Our thoughts and our prayers are with the entire Tillman family."


White House spokesman Taylor Gross
"Pat Tillman was an inspiration both on and off the football field. As with all who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the war on terror, his family is in the thoughts and prayers of President and Mrs. Bush."


Seahawks general manager Bob Ferguson
Ferguson was the Cardinals' GM from 1996-2002, and was instrumental in drafting Tillman.
"Pat represents all that is good with this country, our society and ultimately the human condition in general. In today's world of instant gratification and selfishness, here is a man that was defined by words like loyalty, honor, passion, courage, strength and nobility -- he is a modern-day hero. As much as I loved him, we need to recognize that this is just one story, one man, one sacrifice of many.

I want to thank Pat, his family and all the men and women and their families who have sacrificed their lives for the rest of us."


NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue
"Pat Tillman personified all the best values of his country and the NFL. He was an achiever and leader on many levels who always put his team, his community, and his country ahead of his personal interests. Like other men and women protecting our freedom around the world, Pat made the ultimate sacrifice and gave his life in the service of our country. We are deeply saddened by his loss and, on behalf of everyone in the NFL, we extend our heartfelt sympathy to the Tillman family."


Hall of Famer Jim Brown
"I have so much admiration for this young man. His statement of patriotism, his sacrifice was unbelievable. In an era where people are thinking about nothing but money ... this man sacrificed money to fight for his country. This young man showed more purpose than anybody we have in government at this particular time, because he was the ultimate sacrifice -- he sacrificed himself strictly for what he believed, no politics involved."

Washington defensive coordinator Phil Snow
Snow was Tillman's defensive coordinator at ASU from 1992-2000
"I first heard about Pat this morning, around 7:30. I always knew in the back of my mind that could happen. The first time he was over there, I would wake up every morning and hope there wasn't anything about Pat in the news. But until they tell you, well, it was a shock. It is a tragedy. Pat knew the ramifications of being in the military, but that is what he wanted to do and you have to respect that.

"Pat was a lot of things as a person. He was a tough, good-looking guy. He was extremely competitive. You know there is a saying with older people. He was a 'Man's Man.' You always knew where you stood with Pat. There was no phoniness to him. He was always straight forward with you and wanted you to be straight forward with him. He was just a fantastic guy to be around. I was with him in bad situations and in good, so I saw Pat in just about every light. He was just a terrific guy to be around.

"The last time I saw him was in June. He was stationed down in Tacoma and he came up and visited one day.

"My thoughts go out to Pat's wife and his mom and dad. I think he and Marie had been dating for a long time, maybe back to high school. It's amazing to me how many people Pat touched in 27 years. One day Pat came up here and went to lunch with Steve Emtman. I'll bet when Steve hears the news today he'll really be saddened. That's just the way Pat was. He touched a lot of people. He was a really special. He was a unique guy.


St. Louis Rams' coach Mike Martz
"Our sympathy and condolences go out to all of Pat's family and friends. I can't imagine the pain that they must feel. He was like a son to Larry (Marmie, Rams' defensive coordinator), and this is a difficult time for him.

"Pat died fighting for what he believed in. His courage and convictions are what this country is built on. He is a hero to us all."


Rams' defensive coordinator Larry Marmie
Marmie coached Tillman with the Arizona Cardinals.
"A lot of people knew Pat Tillman because he was a football player. The real sad part is that they didn't know Pat Tillman as a person. What we lost in terms of a person is really something that a lot of us would like to have, those kinds of convictions and the kind of character and attitude that he had about living life.

"He was highly intelligent, and very committed to being good at what he did, not just football, but whatever he did. He just had a charisma about him that everyone just gravitated to him.

"Pat was a very good player, but that pales in comparison with the things that he had as a human being. When I think about Pat Tillman, I just think about somebody that had a deep commitment to doing the very best at whatever he was involved in."


Texas Tech defensive coordinator Lyle Setencich
Setencich was Tillman's position coach at Arizona State during the 1995-96 seasons.
"I want to send my condolences to Pat Tillman's family and friends. This is a deep loss for all those who loved Pat. I also want to send condolences to the families of all of the young men and women who have lost lives in the war we are in. It is difficult to tell others about all of the special qualities of Pat Tillman. My thoughts are with his family at this time. Pat will always have a special place in my heart."


Buffalo Bills Hall of Famer Billy Shaw
In 1968, Shaw was a teammate of Bob Kalsu, a member of the Buffalo Bills and the only NFL player killed in Vietnam. "What a tremendous character make-up both of these individuals had (Kalsu and Tillman) to put their careers on hold to defend our country. It makes me proud to be an NFL alumnus and an American to know that someone that is in our fraternity would sacrifice some or all of his career for us to enjoy our way of life in this country.

"They are the real Hall of Famers."


Denver Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer
Plummer was a teammate of Tillman at Arizona State and with the Arizona Cardinals
"Today is a very sad day. My condolences go out to Pat's family and wife. We lost a unique individual that touched the lives of many with his love for life, his toughness, his intellect and the many unique qualities he possessed. Pat Tillman lived life to the fullest and will be remembered forever in my heart and mind."


Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Chad Hennings
Hennings served as an Air Force Pilot during Desert Storm
"He was definitely a man of character. A man who felt that he was called to a higher purpose, and to walk away from a fairly affluent lifestyle in the NFL to one of living life in a foxhole in a foreign country. It speaks volumes of the man that Pat Tillman is. My condolences go out to his family and his friends and his former teammates. He is definitely a man who will be lost but yet his legend will live on because he is a role model. He is the type of person that I lift up for my son to try and emulate. It's not about the money, it's not about what is in it for me. It's about serving your mankind and doing what's right."

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