Tillman left the NFL in 2002 to join the U.S. Army with his brother KEVIN to fight in the cause of freedom. Eventually qualifying for the elite Army Rangers light infantry fighting unit with his brother, Tillman served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan before being killed in the Khost province of Afghanistan on April 22 in a firefight with insurgents.
The NFL and the Cardinals have announced that players on all 32 teams will wear a No. 40 decal (above) – Tillman's Cardinals uniform number – on their helmets on September 19, Arizona's home opener, with the Cardinals then wearing it the entire season.
The Cardinals will honor Tillman at their home opener.
The team has announced several additional ways in which they will salute their fallen hero.
The club will name the plaza surrounding the perimeter of the new Cardinals stadium, scheduled to open in 2006, as the "Pat Tillman Freedom Plaza."
"Pat exhibited the finest qualities of humanity – loyalty, integrity and excellence – and we are honored to show our appreciation to this citizen soldier," said Cardinals President WILLIAM V. BIDWILL.
The team also will retire Tillman's number, only the fifth time this has happened in the club's 84-year history.
Additionally, the Cardinals and Tillman's alma mater, Arizona State, have announced the formation of the Pat Tillman Memorial Scholarship Award. The scholarship will be given annually to a student in the W.P. Carey School of Business who is studying marketing, the same major in which Tillman graduated summa cum laude in three-and-a-half years.
The NFL is developing other plans to honor Tillman's legacy.
Tillman is one of many NFL players who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation's military.
A complete list of NFL personnel ties who have been killed in action while serving with our country's military:
WORLD WAR II
Cpl. Mike Basca (HB, Philadelphia, 1941) Killed in France in 1944
Lt. Charlie Behan (E, Detroit, 1942) Killed on Okinawa in 1945
Maj. Keith Birlem (E, Cardinals-Washington, 1939) Killed trying to land combat damaged bomber in England in 1943
Lt. Al Blozis (T, Giants, 1942-44) Killed in France, 1945
Lt. Chuck Braidwood (E, Portsmouth-Cleveland-Cardinals-Cincinnati, 1930-33)
Member of Red Cross. Killed in South Pacific, winter 1944-45
Lt. Young Bussey (QB, Bears, 1940-41) Killed in Philippines landing assault in 1944
Lt. Jack Chevigny (Coach, Cardinals, 1932) Killed on Iwo Jima in 1945
Capt. Ed Doyle (E, Frankford-Pottsville, 1924-25) Killed during North Africa invasion in 1942
Lt. Col. Grassy Hinton (B, Staten Island, 1932) Killed in plane crash in East Indies in 1944
Capt. Smiley Johnson (G, Green Bay, 1940-41) Killed on Iwo Jima in 1945
Lt. Eddie Kahn (G, Boston/Washington, 1935-37) Died from wounds suffered during Leyte invasion in 1945
Sgt. Alex Ketzko (T, Detroit, 1943) Killed in France in 1944
Capt. Lee Kizzire (FB, Detroit, 1937) Shot down near New Guinea in 1943
Lt. Jack Lummus (E, Giants, 1941) Killed on Iwo Jima in 1945
Bob Mackert (T, Rochester Jeffersons, 1925) Information not available
Frank Maher (B, Pittsburgh-Cleveland Rams, 1941) Information not available
Pvt. Jim Mooney (E-G-FB, Newark-Brooklyn-Cincinnati-St. Louis-Cardinals, 1930-37) Killed by sniper in France in 1944
Lt. John O'Keefe (Front office, Philadelphia) Killed flying a patrol mission in Panama Canal Zone
Chief Spec. Gus Sonnenberg (B, Buffalo-Columbus-Detroit-Providence, 1923-28, 1930) Died of illness at Bethesda Naval Hospital in 1944
Lt. Len Supulski (E, Philadelphia, 1942) Killed in plane crash in Nebraska in 1944
Lt. Don Wemple (E, Brooklyn, 1941) Killed in plane crash in India in 1944
Lt. Chet Wetterlund (HB, Cardinals-Detroit, 1942) Killed in plane crash off New Jersey coast in 1944
Capt. Waddy Young (E, Brooklyn, 1939-40) Killed in plane crash following first B-29 raid on Tokyo in 1945
Lt. Bob Kalsu (G, Buffalo 1968) Killed while defending Ripcord Base on an isolated jungle mountaintop in 1970
Don Steinbrunner (DE, Cleveland 1953) Killed after plane was shot down over Kontum, South Vietnam
Pat Tillman (S, Arizona 1998-01) Killed during a firefight in the Khost region of Afghanistan