Tillman 10 years later: Dinner to remember

April, 22, 2014
Apr 22
9:00
AM ET
During the final few months of 2003 and beginning of 2004, Arizona State assistant sports information director Doug Tammaro and Pat Tillman exchanged phone calls once or twice a month.

During one conversation, Tammaro told Tillman the Sun Devils' men's basketball team was playing at the University of Washington on Jan. 31, 2004, and asked if he wanted to meet for dinner. Tammaro even offered to drive to Tacoma, Wash., where Tillman was based before returning to the Middle East for his second tour as a member of the U.S. Army. But Tillman preferred heading to Seattle, just a 30-minute drive away.

Tillman
Tillman, his wife, Marie, and brother, Kevin, met Tammaro and Sean Moore, who used to work at ASU, for a dinner at Flying Fish in Seattle. The evening now ranks as a seminal moment in Tammaro's life.

Before the hours of conversation began, however, Tillman needed to get in the restaurant. He couldn't figure out which of the full-length windows was the door and made his way to nearly all of them before finding the entrance.

"I'm like, ‘Glad to see national security is in good hands with a guy who can't open a door,'" Tammaro said with a laugh. "And he's like, ‘F--- you!' You know, he's loud. We talked all night."

In typical Tillman fashion, he didn't want to talk about himself. Instead, he went through the entire ASU athletic staff and asked how everyone was doing. Tammaro asked about the war but all Tillman said was Baghdad was beautiful.

At one point, Tammaro asked Tillman to shoot a video for Arizona State's freshman orientation. Tammaro said he'd even get the Army to film it. Tillman declined.

After he got out of the Army, Tillman told Tammaro, he'd do whatever Arizona State wanted. The ideas flooded Tammaro. Graduation speaker. Freshman orientation speaker. You name it.

Steaks and fish turned into coffee and dessert. Four hours later they all hugged goodbye.

It was the last time Tammaro saw Tillman, who was killed on April 22, 2004. If that dinner was 10 years later, the world of social media would've taken away the sanctity of the moment, Tammaro said. For a few hours it was just the four of them enjoying each other's company.

Tammaro kept the receipt from that night. It's a memento he cherishes.

"People always say, who (would) you want to have dinner with?" Tammaro said. "Well, I kinda did it. I had dinner with Pat Tillman two months before he passed."

Josh Weinfuss

ESPN Arizona Cardinals reporter

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