Monday, March 13, 2006

Men of Honor

Staat, Tillman's ASU teammate, joins Marines

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SAN DIEGO (March 13, 2006) -- A former college teammate of Pat Tillman is following in his footsteps, leaving a career in professional football to join the military.

Jeremy Staat was an 11-game starter for the Steelers in 1999.
Jeremy Staat was an 11-game starter for the Steelers in 1999.
Pfc. Jeremy Staat, a former defensive lineman who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the St. Louis Rams, graduated from the San Diego Marine Corps Recruit Depot on March 10.

Enlisting "is probably one of the best decisions I've made in my life," said Staat, 29. Tillman, who played defensive back for the Arizona Cardinals, was killed by friendly fire near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in April 2004.

Staat said he was felt compelled to join the military after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks but Tillman, who was his roommate at Arizona State, advised him to stay with professional football until he qualified for retirement benefits.

"He told me, 'You're a good player, you need to get good play.' Then four months later, at his wedding, I learn he's going to the Army," Staat said.

Tillman's death gave him "more motivation" to enlist, Staat said.

Tillman gave up a $1.2 million pro football contract to join the Army Rangers.

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