Dave McGinnis still recalls sitting in a draft room, shuffling the big board of college prospects in preparation for the 2004 NFL Draft.
Little did he know, that his world was about to change. McGinnis was about to find out news that would send his world spinning.
It was there in that draft room that then Titans head coach Jeff Fisher told him that Pat Tillman had lost his life in Afghanistan at just 27 years of age. Tillman, who played under McGinnis for four seasons with the Cardinals, enlisted in the U.S. Army after the September 11 attacks, turning down a three-year, $3.6 million deal to continue his NFL career.
And on the 18th anniversary of Tillman’s passing on April 22, 2004, McGinnis still finds it hard to believe, but will never forget the feeling after Fisher broke the news.
“The world really started spinning and fast for me, and you could all of a sudden feel an emptiness and then, everything just started speeding up quite a bit,” said McGinnis, during an interview with OutKick 360’s Jonathan Hutton Friday.
While it’s still hard for McGinnis to believe, he said that he never shies away from talking about the man that Tillman was — the traits that made him a special individual.
“Pat should still be here with us,” McGinnis said. “Pat Tillman, he just embodied — honesty, integrity, dignity are a lot of words that are used a lot. Pat Tillman lived it. I think he clearly possessed the fiber and fabric that all of us would aspire to.”
In his 36 years of coaching in the NFL, McGinnis has come across many players who have impacted his life on and off the field. Eight Hall of Famers, among others played under McGinnis, but one name still sticks out above all.
“No one has impacted my life as deeply as Pat Tillman did,” McGinnis said. “… A piece of Pat Tillman will always be on my heart for a lot of reasons.”
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