There was a man, who played safety for a professional team,
He not only tackled, he hit so hard, milk would be separated from cream.
He was paid millions to play his boyhood game in packed stands,
Buffeted by the waves of sound from cheers and clapped hands.
Too small for college, too slow for the NFL, but very, very intense,
Never would you say this man held back or stood upon the fence
Pac-10 defensive player of the year, football was his desire path.
225 men ahead, in a world of speed and strength, would intensity take hold and graft?
Franchise record for tackles, always at full, unchecked speed,
Never one to follow, always, by example, lead.
Bright as well as intense, but more so loyal to his most inner core.
Even when the Rams offered his salary times 16, he shook his head and closed the door.
9/11 shook the nation, filled with grief, resolve and a desire to resist;
But only this safety walked away from 3.8 million and as a Ranger did enlist.
Not since Rocky Bleier risked his life and limb in
Has an NFL player for country put himself at risk of harm.
But his nation was in a war of shadows and enemies of the night,
Sworn to bring to her knees this nation of thousands of shining lights.
A safety who could today be safe waiting for training camp to dawn,
Lies dead in Afghanistan waiting for transport to an eternal, tranquil Arlington lawn.
Freedom is never free, never has been, never, ever will.
Pat Tillman, a safety, joined the countless others who willingly paid the ultimate bill.
As we enjoy our comfort and safety, please stop for a moment, pause and reflect,
Pray for the soul of Pat Tillman, who left safety, and died picking up our check.
May this statute of Pat at Sun Devil Stadium remind us to never, ever forget
The sacrifices of those putting nation before fortune and to whom we owe a great debt
Michael P. Ridley aka the Alaskanpoet
©April 24, 2004