NFL to Donate $250,000 for Pat Tillman USO Center
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 15, 2004 The National Football League will donate $250,000 to the United Service Organizations in memory of former Arizona Cardinals player and Army Ranger Cpl. Pat Tillman, the league announced at the annual USO gala here Oct. 14.
The grant will be used to build a USO facility -- tentatively named the "Pat Tillman USO Center" -- in Afghanistan to honor the memory of Tillman, who was killed in combat April 22 in the region.
League officials said NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue conceived of the idea for the center last May while visiting U.S. bases in Germany and initiated discussions with the USO shortly thereafter.
"We have been associated with the USO since our first players tour to Vietnam in 1966, and are proud to extend our support in memory of Pat Tillman in this tangible way," said Tagliabue. "Pat personified the best values of America and the National Football League. He was an extraordinary team player -- whether it was with the Arizona Cardinals or Army Rangers. This is part of Pat's tremendous legacy to his extended military family."
Tillman, who played four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, enlisted in the Army in 2002, walking away from a $3.6 million contract offer to serve.
"The USO is extremely pleased to have the National Football League join us in our efforts to connect the people of America with its defenders," said Ned Powell, president and chief executive officer of the USO World Headquarters. "This donation will help expand our mission to a critical area and support U.S. forces serving in Afghanistan. We are proud to honor the memory of Pat Tillman in this way."
Tillman served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan before being killed in April in the Khost province of Afghanistan during a firefight with insurgents. He is the first NFL player to be killed in combat since the Vietnam War and the first NFL veteran since World War II to receive the Silver Star, one of the nation's highest honors for gallantry, valor and heroism. He was promoted to corporal posthumously.
"I believe a USO center in Afghanistan would serve as a fitting tribute to Corporal Tillman's bravery and sacrifice," Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote in recent correspondence with the NFL. "Please accept our heartfelt appreciation for the continued support the National Football League provides our service men and women and their families."
(Courtesy of the National Football League.)