Ravens' Heap to visit troops overseas

OWINGS MILLS – Days after learning that heroic, former Arizona Cardinals safety Pat Tillman died while fighting in Afghanistan, Baltimore Ravens tight end Todd Heap is planning to embark upon a mission of support.<br><br>

Heap will join NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue and Atlanta Falcons linebacker Keith Brooking on a USO tour to visit U.S. troops in Germany between May 6 and May 9. 

Like Tillman, an Army Ranger who walked away from millions of dollars in the NFL to fight for his country, Heap attended Arizona State.

"He was just a great guy, a guy you loved to be around," Heap said of Tillman. "He really had his priorities and morals and put those ahead of football and things that probably don't matter as much.

"Just hearing what happened to him and everything that has taken place in Afghanistan, it's just something you take for granted until it hits home like that. This last week I really had a chance to sit back and reflect on all of the freedoms and the luxuries we're afforded in the United States."

A Pro Bowl selection for the past two seasons, Heap enrolled at Arizona State after Tillman had graduated with honors and joined the Cardinals. Ravens receiver Frank Sanders played with Tillman in Arizona.

Heap's uncle served in Afghanistan. 

"I'm pretty sure he was serving in some of the same spots and areas as Pat was," Heap said.

Along with a group of teammates, Heap visited soldiers injured in Iraq at Washington-area hospitals last summer. Now, he's heading overseas to meet more soldiers.

"I was actually pretty pumped," Heap said. "It was something that I thought would be really cool to do, to go over and meet all of our troops, especially in these times."

Aaron Wilson also writes for the Carroll County Times.

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