Army: Tillman 'would have been a fine leader'

Updated: April 29, 2004, 11:37 PM ET
Associated Press

PHOENIX -- Pat Tillman was promoted posthumously from specialist to corporal after the former NFL player was killed while serving as an Army Ranger in Afghanistan.

"The Army always notes that rank and promotion are not a reward of what was done well, but a recognition that you have the potential to do more," Army spokeswoman Martha Rudd said Thursday. "This promotion is essentially saying he would have been a fine leader."

Tillman, who walked away from a three-year, $3.6 million contract offer from the Arizona Cardinals to join the Army in 2002, was killed April 22 when the Army patrol was ambushed near the Afghan-Pakistani border.

Rudd said the promotion for Tillman was lateral, meaning that while the position indicates increased responsibility and leadership, the pay scale remains the same.

Rudd said it will not affect any benefits Tillman's family receives. Both ranks are E4, or the fourth rank available for enlisted soldiers.

Although Tillman never publicly offered reasons for his decision, several friends have said the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks affected him deeply.

Tillman was the first NFL player killed in combat since Buffalo offensive tackle Bob Kalsu died in the Vietnam War in July 1970. Nineteen NFL players were killed in World War II.

The Cardinals have said they will retire Tillman's No. 40 and name the plaza surrounding the team's new stadium in suburban Glendale the Pat Tillman Freedom Plaza.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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