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  • Writer's pictureMeg Minard

Legacy in Bronze: Pat Tillman

Two memorial statues for Pat Tillman have been designed, sculpted, and placed at two US football stadiums in the Phoenix, AZ area and additional memorials have been designated across the United States to honor and remember the athlete and veteran.

The first statue is located outside State Farm Stadium (NFL Arizona Cardinals); the second sits inside Sun Devil Stadium (ASU – Arizona State University).

Tillman was a linebacker for the Sun Devils from 1994-98 and was selected by the Arizona Cardinals in the 1998 NFL draft. As a Sun Devil linebacker, he helped his team to an undefeated regular season before losing to Ohio State in the 1997 Rose Bowl. Over time in the NFL, he earned his place as a starting player and, in 2000, set a new team record for the number of tackles. Loyal to the Cardinals, in 2001, he turned down a substantial contract with the St. Louis Rams to stay with the Cardinals.

After the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Tillman put his professional career on hold to enlist in the U.S. Army. In April 2004, after serving several tours, Tillman was killed in Afghanistan.

The first statue is located on the north plaza (known as the Tillman Plaza) of State Farm Stadium adjacent to 95th Ave and Maryland Ave in Glendale, AZ. It is open to the public and parking is available just to the north of the Memorial.

Pat Tillman Statue at State Farm Stadium, Photo by Richard Smith, Stadium Journey

The Memorial (statue) is a larger than life 8-foot bronze/stone sculpture. It portrays Tillman about to charge the field, helmet in hand, hair flying, voice shouting. It was conceived and designed by Peter Eisenman and Michael Dollin and sculpted by Omri Amrany, an expert in this art form. Opposite the statue is a 60-foot diameter negative edge reflecting pool. The pool has a low seat wall that allows fans to experience the Memorial and plaza area. The Memorial statue and reflecting pond were in place when the stadium opened in 2006.

Reflecting Pond at State Farm Stadium, Photo by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey

It took sculptor Jeff Carol Davenport just a few short months to complete the ASU campus sculpture. The sculpture is a life-size bronze figure of Tillman in his #42 ASU uniform, posed ready to sprint onto the field. On top a pedestal, it stands 7 ½ feet tall and is placed in front of the Tillman Tunnel that leads the football players onto the north end of the Frank Kush Field at Sun Devil Stadium.

A plaque at its base reads “Somewhere inside, we hear a voice. It leads us in the direction of who we wish to become. But it is up to us whether or not to follow.” – Pat Tillman

Pat Tillman Sun Devil Stadium, Photo by Eric Moreno, Stadium Journey

Since the unveiling in Aug 2017, the ASU football team has started a tradition of touching the statue as they charge the field.

Both the Arizona State University (ASU) Sun Devils and the Arizona Cardinals have retired Pat Tillman’s numbers.

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