PHOENIX, May 24 (UPI) -- Arizona Cardinals defensive back Pat Tillman has announced his intention to join the United States Army with his younger brother, Kevin, putting his NFL career on hold.
Tillman informed Arizona President Bill V. Bidwill and Coach Dave McGinnis of his decision on Wednesday, meeting with each one individually.
"I want to keep the confidence Pat has placed in me. We were together for quite a while (Wednesday)," McGinnis said. "He's going in to join the Army and he'll be going to boot camp at the end of this month. His plans are, after he goes to boot camp, to go to Ranger's School."
McGinnis, wanting to keep a majority of the details of his conversation with Tillman private, did say, "this is very serious with Pat. It's very personal and I honor that. I honor the integrity of that. It was not a snap decision he woke up and made yesterday. This has been an ongoing process and he feels very strongly about it. I admire Pat's determination to make a commitment to his country."
Tillman, recently married and known for his hard-nosed play and toughness as a strong safety with the Cardinals, was drafted by the team in the seventh round of the 1998 NFL Draft out of Arizona State. He made a successful transition from collegiate linebacker to NFL safety. In 2000, his second full year at the position, started all 16 games. Last season he started all 12 games in which he played, missing four with an ankle injury. He owns career totals of 478 tackles, two sacks, and three interceptions.
"I go back a long way with Pat, clear back to that day on the practice field at ASU when (then-defensive backs coach) Larry Marmie and I worked him out and decided we wanted to bring him in here," McGinnis said. "The guy has got something to him and that's why I wanted him on the team all these years. When a lot of people doubted if he could play, he never doubted it."
Tillman was born in Fremont, Calif., in 1976. He graduated summa cum laude from ASU in 1997 in three and one-half years with a degree in marketing.