Tuesday marks the 10-year anniversary of Pat Tillman’s tragic death in the line of active duty, and yet a decade later the former Arizona State and Arizona Cardinals linebacker’s legacy as a football player, soldier and first-class person can still be felt on both a local and national level.
No more so than in Tempe, where the former Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year starred on the gridiron for four years, captaining the Sun Devils to the program’s second Rose Bowl appearance in 1996-97.
ASU athletic director Ray Anderson has only been on the job for a little over two months now, but as he revealed on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s Dan Bickley Show with Vince Marotta, Tillman’s presence is apparent just about anywhere he goes on campus.
“Obviously, the love and the passion for Pat Tillman is palpable,” Anderson said. “You see it every place, literally every place in and around Tempe there is a tribute to Pat Tillman.
“To come into an environment as an outsider and see that he is coveted and embraced by everybody as a personal family member who sacrificed for his country and who was a representative of ASU, there’s just a lot of pride, a lot of love, a lot of embracing for everything that is number 42.”
Since Tillman’s death in April 2004, the university has gone to great lengths to pay tribute and honor their former student-athlete.
From retiring his jersey to redesigning Sun Devil Stadium’s south tunnel in his honor
to renaming its veterans center with his namesake, Tillman remains close in the hearts and minds of all those who bleed maroon and gold.
But in Anderson’s eyes, the greatest illustration of Tillman’s impact might just be the annual race put on by his foundation, which has been hosted by the city and university every year since 2006.
“This weekend as you know is Pat’s Run,” said Anderson. “It’s 4.2 miles and ends at the 42-yard line in the stadium. Just the details of that shows how important he is to everything in this community and Arizona State.
“I’m really proud to be a part of it and to be able to appreciate it, and frankly enjoy his memory as a real hero for this university.”