Pat Tillman: An American Hero

Pat TillmanPat Tillman and his brother Kevin. Photo from
gamestrat high school football sideline instant replay

Thirteen years ago today, Pat Tillman lost his life while serving his country.  While there are plenty of stories today that are looking at Tillman’s drive to join the Army Rangers after the 9/11 attacks and his time with the Arizona Cardinals, I thought it would be good to look back on his high school career.

Pat Tillman Stadium

Tillman played football at Leland High School in San Jose, California where he led the school to a CIF Central Coast Section championship in 1993.  His spirit lives on at Leland with the team’s home field being named in his honor — Pat Tillman Stadium.

Pat Tillman Stadium

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Video Highlights

In high school, Tillman, who was told at one point in his life he was too small to play football, wore No. 42 for the Leland Chargers, playing running back and safety. Below you can watch highlights of Tillman in action on the high school gridiron.

How determined was Tillman as a high school player?

Sports Illustrated‘s Tim Layden wrote the following about Tillman in 1997 when he was playing at Arizona State in an article entitled A Cut Above Pat Tillman, Arizona State’s Height-Loving, Tree-Swinging, Book-Cracking Linebacker, is the Best Player You’ve Never Heard Of.

As a senior safety-tailback-kick returner at Leland High in San
Jose, Tillman so detested leaving the field that once, after his
coach pulled the starters at halftime of a first-round playoff
romp, he took the field for the second-half kickoff and ran it
back for a touchdown. The coach, Terry Hardtke, confiscated
Tillman’s helmet and shoulder pads and put them under a bench
lest Tillman get the urge to score again.


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About the Author

Jeff Fisher
Jeff is an award-winning journalist and expert in the field of high school sports, underscored with his appearance on CNBC in 2010 to talk about the big business of high school football in America. Jeff turned to his passion for high school football into an entrepreneurial venture called High School Football America, a digital media company focused on producing original high school sports content for radio, television and the internet. Jeff is co-founder and editor-in-chief of High School Football America, which is a media partner with USA TODAY High School Sports.