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This statue commemorates former Arizona Cardinals safety Pat Tillman (1976-2004). A native of San Jose, California, he played linebacker at Arizona State before the Cardinals selected him in the seventh round of the 1998 NFL Draft. Motivated to serve his country after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Tillman turned down a three-year, $3.6 million contract offer from the Cardinals to enlist in the U.S. Army following the 2001 NFL season. He served first in Iraq before heading to Afghanistan, where he was killed by friendly fire during a chaotic engagement with enemy forces on April 22, 2004. Only a few days after Tillman’s death, the Cardinals announced that an area outside the then-under-construction University of Phoenix Stadium (now State Farm Stadium) would be named Pat Tillman Freedom Plaza. The organization then commissioned a statue of him to be placed there. Designed by artist Omri Amrany, it was dedicated on November 12, 2006, before the Cardinals took the field against the Dallas Cowboys. Modeled after a picture of Tillman that graced the cover of Sports Illustrated shortly after his death, the larger-than-life-sized, five-hundred-pound bronze sculpture depicts Tillman celebrating after a gridiron victory. Dressed in his Cardinals uniform, he runs across the field with his helmet in his right hand and his mouthguard in his left while letting out a jubilant roar. A forty-two-foot-long wall stands behind the statue, its length a reference to Tillman’s jersey number at Arizona State. Opposite the sculpture is a negative edge reflecting pool that measures sixty feet in diameter.


  • Arm, Football, Ball, Wood
  • Cloud, Sky, World, Sculpture
  • Sky, Tree, Plant, Road surface
  • Military camouflage, Shirt, Camouflage, Military uniform
  • Sports uniform, Sports gear, Sports equipment, Helmet

Patrick Daniel Tillman was born on November 6, 1976 in San Jose, California. The eldest of three boys of Patrick and Mary Tillman, he attended Leland High School, where he shined in the classroom and on the gridiron. After leading the school’s football team to a Central Coast Division I Football Championship, Tillman earned a football scholarship to attend Arizona State University, where he played linebacker. In 1996, he helped guide the Sun Devils to an undefeated regular season, a Pac-10 Conference title, and a berth in the Rose Bowl. For Tillman’s outstanding play on the field, the conference named him its Defensive Player of the Year. During his time at Arizona State, Tillman earned three Pac-10 Academic Football Team selections and one First-Team Academic All-American honor. Graduating summa cum laudewith a bachelor’s of science degree in marketing in only three and a half years, he also received a postgraduate scholarship from the NCAA for academic and athletic excellence. 

In the 1998 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals chose Tillman in the seventh round with the 226th overall pick. Due to his size (5’11” and just over 200 pounds), the organization quickly switched him from linebacker to safety. Tillman thrived in his new position, becoming a starter in his first season with the team. During the 2000 season, he set a single-season franchise record with 224 tackles. In his leisure time, Tillman pursued a master’s degree in history at Arizona State. Additionally, he volunteered with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Arizona and the March of Dimes. 

Motivated to serve his country after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Tillman turned down a three-year, $3.6 million contract offer from the Cardinals to enlist in the U.S. Army following the 2001 NFL season. After completing U.S. Army Ranger training in late 2002, he joined the Second Battalion of the Seventy-Fifth Ranger Regiment and served his first tour of duty in Iraq in early 2003. The following year, Tillman headed to Afghanistan. On the evening of April 22, 2004, while on patrol in the country’s eastern Paktia Province, he was killed by friendly fire during a chaotic engagement with enemy forces. U.S. Army officials initially maintained that Tillman died from enemy gunfire. Several weeks later, however, the truth came to public light. Subsequent investigations into the circumstances surrounding Tillman’s death and the U.S. Army’s handling of it found that military officials attempted to cover-up the truth for fear that it would undermine public support for the war. 

Only a few days after Tillman’s death, the Cardinals announced that an area outside the then-under-construction University of Phoenix Stadium (now State Farm Stadium) would be named Pat Tillman Freedom Plaza. The organization then commissioned a statue of him to be placed there. Designed by artist Omri Amrany, it was dedicated on November 12, 2006, before the Cardinals took the field against the Dallas Cowboys. Modeled after a picture of Tillman that graced the cover of Sports Illustrated shortly after his death, the larger-than-life-sized, five-hundred-pound bronze sculpture depicts Tillman celebrating after a gridiron victory. Dressed in his Cardinals uniform, he runs across the field with his helmet in his right hand and his mouthguard in his left while letting out a jubilant roar. A forty-two-foot-long wall stands behind the statue, its length a reference to Tillman’s jersey number at Arizona State. Opposite the sculpture is a negative edge reflecting pool that measures sixty feet in diameter. 

Bauer, Patricia. "Pat Tillman." Encyclopædia Britannica. Web. 6 July 2021 <https://www.britannica.com/biography/Pat-Tillman>.

"Cardinals' stadium plaza to be named for Tillman." espn.com. 24 April 2004. Web. 6 July 2021 <https://www.espn.com/nfl/news/story?id=1788876>.

History.com Editors. "Pat Tillman killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan." History. A&E Television Networks. 20 April 2021. Web. 6 July 2021 <https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/pat-tillman-killed-by-friendly-fire-in-afghanistan>.

Minard, Meg. "Legacy in Bronze: Pat Tillman." stadiumjourney.com. 11 November 2020. Web. 6 July 2021 <https://stadiumjourney.com/news/legacy-in-bronze-pat-tillman>.

"Pat's Story." pattillmanfoundation.org. Pat Tillman Foundation. Web. 6 July 2021 <https://pattillmanfoundation.org/the-foundation/pats-story/>.

Rielly, Edward J. Football: An Encyclopedia of Pop Culture. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2009.

"Slain war hero Tillman joins Cards' Ring of Honor." espn.com. 12 November 2006. Web. 6 July 2021 <https://www.espn.com/nfl/news/story?id=2659602>.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

http://life-in-rv.blogspot.com/2014/01/university-of-phoenix-stadium-tour.html

https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/2016/10/28/pat-tillman-legacy-foundation-a-football-life-nfl-films-documentary-cardinals/92872266/

https://stadiumjourney.com/news/legacy-in-bronze-pat-tillman

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pat_Tillman

https://www.si.com/nfl/2014/04/22/remembering-pat-tillman#gid=ci02558fc7e00f279d&pid=remembering-pat-tillman