ARIZONA CARDINALS

Cardinals’ Evan Weaver on Tillman comparison: No one can fill Pat’s shoes

May 3, 2020, 11:05 AM | Updated: 2:23 pm
(AP Photo/Roy Dabner)...
(AP Photo/Roy Dabner)
(AP Photo/Roy Dabner)

If there are two key attributes to Arizona Cardinals rookie linebacker Evan Weaver, they’re his competitiveness and unrelenting drive to give his team the best chance at taking home a victory.

What Weaver brings to the gridiron hasn’t gone unnoticed, either, already drawing comparisons to NFL players past and present.

But there’s one name in particular that sticks out above all else: Former Cardinals linebacker Pat Tillman.

Being mentioned in the same breath as an Arizona legend is an honor for Weaver, no doubt. But he’ll be the first one to tell you that Tillman is a man that simply cannot be replaced.

“Nobody can be Pat, Pat was just a one-of-a-kind dude, played four years in the league, fiery competitor,” Weaver told Burns & Gambo on Arizona Sports on Friday. “And then what he did in the community and not just in the community but for the United States.

“He lost his life for this country and that’s just something that, I don’t want to say an unfair comparison, but nobody can beat Pat and nobody can go and try to fill his shoes because it just won’t happen.”

His style of play and demeanor in which he takes the field has been pegged as a resemblance of Tillman’s game. Not to mention the connection of being a Cardinals late-round pick and both earning Pac-12/Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year honors. There’s also the knock of their games translating to the NFL level. For Tillman, it was his size. For Weaver, his athleticism.

Named the Pac-12 DPOY in 2019 for a reason — racking up 181 tackles, 11.5 for loss, 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles — Weaver isn’t focused on the negative as he embarks on his football journey at the next level using the same type of hard-nosed, yet smart, football as one of his inspirations.

“I’m the type of guy that once you put me on the field I don’t think you want to take me off,” Weaver said. “My leadership qualities on the field and being able to rally the guys around me and get everybody lined up as the MIKE linebacker. That’s what you gotta do. Just somebody that’s produced at every level he’s played at. I don’t expect to see anything different when I get my chance.”

Weaver isn’t one to compare himself to the late Cardinal. But that isn’t stopping the former Cal linebacker from using Tillman’s life as a motivation to better himself in every aspect, not just football.

“No one can and no one will be this man!” Weaver tweeted. “American hero, Arizona hero, sports hero! All we can do is strive to be like him and push ourselves to believe like him! Need to keep pushing to be more like Pat!

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