Plummer: Even in death, Pat Tillman keeps pushing me to be a better man
Few athletes can encompass the legendary status that the late Pat Tillman has, especially in the state of Arizona.
Tillman spent his college football playing days with the Arizona State Sun Devils and was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals before enlisting in the U.S. Army, where he was tragically killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan.
“I’m kind of pissed off at Pat right now,” former ASU and Cardinals quarterback Jake Plummer told Arizona Sports’ Doug & Wolf on Friday for Legends Week. “Even in his death and ongoing legacy and his legendary status, he makes me feel like I’m not doing enough. I’m not doing more.
“Of course I’m not mad at Pat. I use him as motivation sometimes. There were times where I was talking about Pat and look at my own life and say, ‘Man, if Pat saw what I was doing now, he’d say you talk too much. You need to start getting stuff done.'”
Plummer noted that Tillman probably wouldn’t have used the word “stuff” and most likely would’ve used a different word.
“Pat, in a way, can be kind of maddening,” Plummer said. “He keeps pushing me — even in his death — to be a better man.
“When we were friends and he was alive and we were seeing each other, he would do the same thing. ‘What are you up to? What are you learning? What are you reading?’ He’d dig in right away and make you go, ‘(expletive), this guy. He’s making me feel like less of a man.'”
The former QB still keeps in touch with the Tillman family, and even considers himself a spokesman for the legendary linebacker.
“Not because I chose that, but I think in a way to take that heat and what must be a tremendous sorrow that’s hard as hell off of his family,” Plummer said. “I can’t imagine people wanting to talk to [the Tillman family]. It’s just endless still with the questions looming about his ending. You can’t focus on that. Instead, talk about the good that he did.
“He befriended [people], made them feel like they were someone, like they were a human. It’s a very simple thing to do but it was an innate trait in him that he was able to really engage and make you feel like you were something special.”
It didn’t take long for Tillman to turn heads and win people over on the field either. Even in the former teammates’ early days of practice together for the Sun Devils, Plummer knew that Tillman was going to be special.
“Immediately I loved this guy because right away he was a tone-setter,” Plummer said. “He didn’t care if you were going to come across in practice and reach up for a ball and his job was to stop you, he was going to stop you. Sometimes he would make some guys really mad with his intensity and passion.
“To watch him at ASU and then to watch him on the field in the pros, he just was all in and I loved that about him. And he was a phenomenal football player.”
Plummer praised Tillman’s football IQ, so much that the former QB even touted that the likes of ESPN’s NFL Draft experts Mel Kiper and Todd McShay “don’t know (expletive)” in comparison.
“Pat knew it so deeply that if he knew where to be and how to get there then he would be able to make the plays,” Plummer said.
“He was a true student of the game. He was a very highly intelligent football player. I loved playing with him, man. He brought it.”