Tillman represented by Plummer at Arizona Sports HOF induction

Nov 2, 2018, 7:31 AM | Updated: 10:07 pm
(AP Photo/Roy Dabner)...
(AP Photo/Roy Dabner)
(AP Photo/Roy Dabner)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — In his 27 years of life, Pat Tillman achieved a lot. More than 14 years since his death, he added one more accolade to his list of achievements Thursday.

Tillman was one of six athletes or coaches inducted into this year’s Arizona Sports Hall of Fame class. A former linebacker for Arizona State and safety for the Arizona Cardinals, Tillman was the only football player in the 2018 class.

He played for four seasons with the Arizona State Sun Devils, and following graduation, Tillman was drafted in the seventh round by the Cardinals. After four years in the NFL and one Pro Bowl appearance, he enlisted in the United States Army. Tillman was killed on April 22, 2004, by friendly fire.

“Pat was just an amazing dude off the field,” said former ASU and Cardinals quarterback Jake Plummer. “He was a genuine, real friend, which in this day and age is nice to have.”

Tillman and Plummer played three seasons together at Arizona State, and after that, they played together on the Cardinals for four years. Because of Tillman’s posthumous induction, Plummer was chosen to represent him at the 2018 ceremony.

“For me, it’s pretty awesome,” Plummer said. “He had a lot of great friends and family and teammates that could probably be standing in my shoes, but I feel honored to be the guy that could come do that to represent all the people he impacted in his short life. It’s an honor and one that I don’t take lightly.”

In his speech on behalf of Tillman, Plummer admitted that it’s hard to know how he would have responded to this honor. That said, Plummer still had a guess.

“He’d probably say, ‘Man, these are some badass athletes I’m going into the Hall of Fame with and then give me some grief for me not dressing up enough,'” Plummer said.

If he were to give his own induction speech, the only certainty of Tillman’s Hall of Fame speech would have been uncertainty.

“It’s hard to say what Pat would think or say,” Plummer said. “Think outside the box; not your typical answer. He was always one to make you think with his responses and challenge you to say, ‘What is he talking about?'”

Perhaps what’s most telling about Tillman’s impact is the fact that he was inducted into the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame despite not living in the state until college. He only lived in the Valley for eight years, but that short amount of time was memorable enough to cement his legacy in the Arizona sports world.

In his speech, Plummer said Tillman would surely be proud of that.

“He would say, ‘No, honors don’t matter,’ but I know too well that he didn’t mind a little bit of the attention,” Plummer said. “I am sure he would be very proud of this, not being from here but still going into the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame and being very deserving of it.”

During his time in both football and the army, Tillman racked up plenty of honors.

He was named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year in 1997 and led the Sun Devils to the Rose Bowl that season. In the NFL, Tillman was a participant in the 2000 Pro Bowl, and in his four seasons in the league, he recorded 184 tackles.

Tillman was also honored with several accolades as a soldier, including Silver Star, Purple Heart, Army Achievement Medal and more. Furthermore, he was given the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2003 ESPYs.

“(He) lived his life to the utmost fullness that you’re supposed to,” Plummer said. “I hope to shed some light on why I feel he’s a Hall of Famer. He was extremely passionate about life.”

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Tillman represented by Plummer at Arizona Sports HOF induction