Arizona Cardinals’ JJ Watt To Honor Pat Tillman with Signature Shoe

by Josh Lanier

JJ Watt and the Arizona Cardinals announced Thursday that they will release a Pat Tillman signature shoe. Tillman, the undersized but ferocious Cardinals defensive back, left the NFL, turning down millions of dollars, to join the U.S. Army.

JJ Watt said playing in the same organization as Tillman is an honor. The defensive end has a history of charity work and helping the communities where he plays.

ESPN said the shoes went on sale on May 27 but reported Watt started designing the JJ IV Valors even before he signed with the Cardinals in March. He worked with Tillman’s widow, Marie, to ensure the shoes would honor her late husband.

“Pat Tillman lived his life in service of a purpose bigger than himself. That is his true legacy. This shoe is a small way to pay tribute to a legendary man, by not only honoring him but also donating to the foundation established in his name and ensuring that his legacy lives on,” JJ Watt said in a statement.

Reebok said they will donate $10 to the Pat Tillman Foundation for each pair sold up to $10,000. Watt is donating all of his proceeds to the foundation.

“J.J. exemplifies our values of scholarship, service, humble leadership, and impact,” Pat Tillman Foundation CEO Dan Futrell told ESPN. “In J.J., we see someone who shares Pat’s passion for living, his tenacity on the football field and off through his deep investment in making a difference in his community and on a global scale. We’re grateful to partner with him and Reebok on this latest release.”

Pat Tillman Died While Fighting in Afghanistan

Pat Tillman became a hero for many when he turned down a nearly $4 million contract to join the military shortly after 9/11.

He was a standout as a soldier, just as he had been on the football field. Tillman joined Special Forces and spent several tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He died in 2004 from friendly fire during a firefight.

Jon Krakauer documented Tillman’s life and death in the book Where Men Win Glory. In his private journals, Tillman explained what drove him.

“Passion is what makes life interesting, what ignites our soul, fuels our love and carries our friendships, stimulates our intellect, and pushes our limits,” Tillman wrote in his diary. “A passion for life is contagious and uplifting. Passion cuts both ways … Those that make you feel on top of the world are equally able to turn it upside down … In my life, I want to create passion in my own life and with those, I care for. I want to feel, experience, and live every emotion. I will suffer through the bad for the heights of the good.”