washingtonpost.com  > Sports > Leagues and Sports > NFL > Index > Cardinals

Tillman Opted Not to Leave Army in 2003

Associated Press
Sunday, April 17, 2005; Page E07

Four months before he was killed in Afghanistan, Pat Tillman was told that he could opt out of extending his military service because NFL clubs were interested in him.

Tillman chose to stay in the Army Rangers, and on April 22, 2004, he was shot by a fellow U.S. soldier who mistakenly fired on a friendly Afghan soldier in Tillman's unit. Other U.S. soldiers then fired in the same direction.

_____From The Post_____
Questions remain about the quality of the top of the QB crop.
Maryland's Chris Kelley hopes for a shot at the NFL after an injury-riddled collegiate career.
_____Cardinals Basics_____
Arizona Cardinals Cardinals page
Player stats
Opponent comparison
_____NFL Basics_____
Team index
NFL Section
_____Mark Maske's NFL Insider_____
For Restricted Free Agents, a Bullish Market (washingtonpost.com, Apr 15, 2005)
Time for 49ers to Get Serious About Top Pick (washingtonpost.com, Apr 14, 2005)
NFL Opts for Only Two Games on Christmas (washingtonpost.com, Apr 13, 2005)

Tillman had an exceptional college football career and was a starter for the Arizona Cardinals. But he was largely unknown outside Arizona until he walked away from a $1.2 million-a-year contract to join the Army after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

In December 2003, when Tillman was back home from his initial tour overseas in Iraq, his agent had begun fielding calls from teams suddenly interested in acquiring his client for the 2004 season.

"And they all said the same thing: 'Frank, this kid can get out of it. He's already served in a war. Just file his discharge papers,' " the agent, Frank Bauer, told the Arizona Republic.

He urged Tillman to consider seeking a discharge.

"He said: 'No, I'm going to stay. I owe them three years. I'll do one more tour,' " Bauer said. "And that's the last I ever heard from Pat."

Tillman's decision "may be remarkable to everybody else," said brother-in-law Alex Garwood, director of the Pat Tillman Foundation. "But not if you knew Pat."

The Defense Department has completed an investigation into Tillman's death that was aimed at concerns raised about whether the Army held back information, but its findings won't be made public, Lt. Col. Pamela Hart, an Army spokeswoman at the Pentagon, said this past week.

Tillman's family got a briefing on the inquiry recently, said Lt. Col. Hans Bush, chief of public affairs for the Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Walls to Stay With Denver

The Denver Broncos re-signed restricted free agent cornerback Lenny Walls on Friday, a move the team needed to make after losing Kelly Herndon to free agency.

Walls dislocated his shoulder three times last season, missing nine games. Still, the Broncos put a first-round tender on him at the start of free agency, meaning any team that signed him would have to part with a first-round draft pick.

Details of Walls's new contract were not disclosed.

Herndon, who started most of last season in place of Walls, also was a restricted free agent, but the Broncos chose not to use the first-round tender on him. When the Seattle Seahawks made Herndon an offer, the Broncos didn't match it.

Walls is expected to start opposite Champ Bailey. He missed all of last year's training camp with an ankle injury. Then came the dislocated shoulders. After the third one, Walls had surgery.

In February, he told the Broncos that doctors had told him there was less than a 10 percent chance of the shoulder popping out again.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company