McGinnis: Pat Tillman's loss created "a void" that won't away

Dave McGinnis photo courtesy of Arizona Cardinals
TEMPE, AZ - NOVEMBER 2: Head Coach Dave McGinnis of the Arizona Cardinals looks on as his team takes on the Cincinnati Bengals on November 2, 2003 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Bengals 17-14. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

(Dave McGinnis, Pat Tillman photos courtesy of the Arizona Cardinals)

Talk of Fame Network

People will tell you that when you lose a loved one, the hurt never stops. It just lessens with time.

But that hasn't happened to Rams’ assistant head coach Dave McGinnis, who was head coach of the Arizona Cardinals when Pat Tillman left to join the U.S. Army. Friday marks the 12th anniversary of Tillman’s death, and on this week's Talk of Fame Network broadcast McGinnis conceded that 12 years hasn't lessened the hurt he feels every year at this time.

“I’ll tell you what hurts me so bad,” he said, “was just the tremendous loss of what Pat was going to be able to contribute to life. I’m not just talking about football; I’m talking about to life in general.

“When we lost Pat Tillman – and I say, “We” because I think it encompasses all of us that care anything about what is all good and right and true in America – that’s a void. And I know personally it’s a huge void for me; it’s a void for all who were close to him … To me, there’s so much daily in this business in the NFL that ties in and reminds me of what ‘Tilly’ was and who he is ... and who he still is to those of us who know him. So that never goes away. Never.”

Tillman was an extraordinary individual who left his family and the NFL behind to volunteer for military duty overseas. He was, according to all who knew him, an extraordinary individual who fought for what he believed in, and what he believed was that serving his country was more important than serving the NFL.

“To know Pat Tillman was to really know a renaissance guy,” said McGinnis. “There was nothing stereotypical about Pat Tillman in any phase of his life … Everything that Pat Tillman attempted he was not only successful; he excelled at. But the biggest thing that Pat Tillman excelled at was the way he treated human beings.”

The 12th annual Pat’s Run, a 4.2-mile walk/run (Tillman wore No. 42 number at Arizona State), will be held Saturday, with thousands expected. The race that once drew 5,000 participants, has grown to over 35,000, and is the signature fundraising event of the Pat Tillman Foundation.

“He has touched so many people,” said McGinnis. “He appealed to everybody, guys. He appealed to the intellectuals because he was brilliant. He appealed to the tough guys because he was the ultimate tough guy. He appealed to the bikers. He appealed to the grandmothers. He appealed to the little kids. He was just that cool with everybody.

“Believe me, guys, I can’t say enough, and he’ll always be in my heart. It was an honor for me to have been associated and still to be associated in spirit with Pat Tillman because there’s not many of those dudes that come along. And when one of those guys like that touches your life, you’re blessed.”

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