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The Tillman Test

Dallas Cowboys v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images

Pat Tillman loved playing football —- he called it “ballin’”. Anyone who knew Pat Tillman or went “ballin’” with Pat Tillman knew and understood the three qualities he epitomized:

  • determination
  • loyalty
  • humbleness/selflessness

As Cardinals’ coaches, players and fans well know, Pat Tillman’s locker in the Cardinals clubhouse remains intact.

Perhaps more than ever this year, Pat Tillman’s presence in the clubhouse and on the field will be most keenly felt.

The reason is —- this off-season the Cardinals have been building their roster by virtue of a coefficient that could be best described as “The Tillman Test.”

The Tillman Test is as simple as this: would Pat Tillman want to be ballin’ with you?

Take a good look at the Cardinals’ off-season signings and acquisitions:

  • DE J.J. Watt
  • C Rodney Hudson
  • CB Malcolm Butler
  • T Kelvin Beachum
  • LB Markus Golden
  • WR A.J. Green
  • LB Tanner Vallejo
  • LB Dennis Gardeck
  • LB Ezekiel Turner
  • S Charles Washington
  • S Chris Bano
  • S Shawn Williams
  • K Matt Prater
  • P Andy Lee
  • TE Darrell Daniels
  • QB Colt McCoy
  • G Brian Winters
  • G Max Garcia
  • CB Robert Alford

Quite a number of these players are key cogs on the Cardinals’ special teams. Pat Tillman cut his teeth in the NFL on special teams. Whatever the coaches wanted from Pat Tillman, he embraced with full conviction.

My fondest memory of Pat Tillman as an Arizona Cardinal was when DC Fritz Shurmur employed a “Jumbo” 6-1 defense and inserted Pat Tillman, all of 5-11, 204 pounds, as the 1 —- a.k.a.—- the MLB. A unique role for Tillman and any player his size, in which #40 became a heat-seeking doberman.

You want to get fired up? You want to feel every pore of your body breathe? You want to get your “ass knocked off at 9 am in the morning” (as Dave McGinnis says on this tape) ? Watch this:

This tape should be required viewing for all Cardinals players. Especially now that the front office is using the Tillman Test as its roster building priority. Heck, I hope Kliff Kingsbury starts the team’s first training camp meeting with this video.

Interesting too that Kyler Murray recently expressed his wish that the Cardinals bring back these retro jerseys with the numbers on the shoulder pads and the Arizona state flag on the sleeves.

Before J.J. Watt was signed by the Arizona Cardinals:

Cheers JJ Watt! Thank you for sharing your inspiration and raising a glass to Pat, the #TillmanScholars, all of our veterans, and of course Grandpa Watt. #Pints4Pat For more info on Pints for Pat, click here:

Posted by Pat Tillman Foundation (Official) on Monday, November 2, 2020

Let’s all raise our glasses for Pat Tillman and Papa Watt.

After the Cardinals signed J.J. Watt:

“I’ve obviously long been a fan of Pat Tillman,” Watt said at his introductory press conference. “Just what he stood for, who he was and everything about his legacy is unbelievable to me.”

When asked what position he wants to play in Arizona, J.J. Watt’s response could not have more Pat Tillmian-esque:

“I’ll line up wherever I have to,” he said. “Wherever they want me to line up, I’m very comfortable playing any position all the way up and down the line. I’m sure I’ll move around a lot just like I have in the past, so whatever Vance and the coaches feel like is the best position to put me in and the best position to help our defense have success, that’s where I’ll go. It doesn’t really matter much to me.”

  • determination
  • loyalty
  • humbleness/selflessness

Somewhere way above the stars, Pat Tillman and Larry Wilson are sitting on the top of a heavenly water tower talking about the meaning of life and looking down on the Cardinals’ new team building of “ballers” philosophy with pride.

You fired up? Seriously, dawgs, you fired up?