FOXBORO, Mass. — Patriots safety Josh Barrett still tries to carry on Pat Tillman's legacy.
The two crossed paths at Arizona State, and Barrett has used Tillman's message to keep a positive outlook on life. Tillman, who turned down a $3.6 million, three-year contract from the Cardinals to join the Army in response to 9/11, was killed in Afghanistan in 2004.
"I think the lasting legacy he had on me personally in my career was, 'Do more for others than you do for yourself. There are no shortcuts. Don't make excuses for anything, and live life to the fullest. And be willing to make sacrifices,'" Barrett said.
Tillman's story was a huge deal at Arizona State, where the university erected a statue of Tillman and named a tunnel after him at the stadium. Barrett said Tillman's former teammates, most notably quarterback Jake Plummer, would speak with the student-athletes about the impact he had on everyone he met.
Barrett still keeps some memorabilia that he got from a charity event in Tillman's honor, and it's locked away in a safe at his mother's house in Reno, Nev. Barrett also recalled how one of his friends, former Arizona State linebacker Mike Nixon, received a signed letter from Tillman during his recruitment process with the program.
After Tillman's death, Barrett hoped to honor him by wearing No. 42, but it was bestowed upon senior defensive lineman Connor Banks. Again, the stories just show how revered Tillman is with everyone he's affected.
"They looked at [Tillman] as somewhat of an iconic figure, and you can definitely follow his story and get behind him," Barrett said. "This guy was bigger than the game."
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