Friday, September 6, 2013
TILLMAN TUNNEL: A REFRESHER FOR COLLEGE SPORTS
That's how I'd describe the new "Tillman Tunnel" produced by Arizona State inside
Sun Devil Stadium, the place where Pat Tilman became a Pac-10 star. But it was Tillman's
commitment to his country, not his college that made him a hero, and paying the ultimate
price made Tillman a legend.
In a college sports world that has been dripping in scandal from Penn State to Rutgers to
the never-ending saga of Johnny Manziel, the tribute to Tillman is like the industrial cleaner
used to wipe away the grease and grime.
This is so right, so refreshing, and so perfectly done.
The administration at Arizona State made the ultimate tribute to a man who made the ultimate
sacrifice for his country. Tillman was killed by friendly fire during a mission in Afghanistan in
2004. The former undersized linebacker at Arizona State, became a star in the NFL as a safety
with the Arizona Cardinals. He turned his back on multi-million dollar contract that would have
set him up for life, to serve the United States after seeing what the terrorist attacks had done to the
soul of this country.
Tillman was a symbol of heart, courage, and character, which is something that's been sorely
missing in the sports world. He was a free spirit who did things his own way on his own time.
He was a true leader, one that did not crave attention or pound his chest in this "look at me,
aren't I great?" world. Tillman led by example.
Perhaps, that is why Arizona State thought it was appropriate that Tillman lead the Sun Devils
out of the tunnel and onto the field, forever. When the Sun Devils run out to meet their opponent,
they will run through Tillman, touching the image of a man, who was everything good about
college and professional sports, and everything right when it comes to character.
There are other great traditions in college football like the touching of Howard's Rock at
Clemson and the Notre Dame players tapping the sign, "Play Like A Champion Today". But
my new favorite one starts for me this weekend, when Arizona State runs through the new
"Tillman Tunnel" to take on Wisconsin.
Well done, Arizona State, well done.