Wednesday, September 8, 2004
Tillman was killed April 22 in Afghanistan
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Phoenix Coyotes center Mike Ricci
announced Wednesday that he will wear No. 40 next season to honor
deceased NFL player Pat Tillman.
Tillman, 27, left the Arizona Cardinals and a
multimillion-dollar contract in May 2002 to join the U.S. Army
Rangers. He was killed last April 22 in Afghanistan, the first NFL
player to die in combat since the Vietnam War.
"When I heard his story, it really touched me," Ricci said
after donning his new Coyotes jersey at a news conference at
Glendale Arena. "This is a way to pay tribute to what he's done."
Ricci, 32, spent the last seven seasons with the San Jose Sharks
and was the team's captain last year. He said he met Tillman a
couple of times in San Jose, which was Tillman's hometown, and was
impressed by him.
After Ricci signed a two-year contract with Phoenix as a free
agent on July 9, he said he contacted Tillman's brother-in-law to
see if he could get approval to wear No. 40 for the Coyotes.
Coyotes officials said some of the proceeds from the future sale
of replica Ricci jerseys will benefit the Pat Tillman Foundation.
Players on all 32 NFL teams will wear a helmet decal bearing
Tillman's No. 40 in games of the second week this season, while
Cardinals players will wear it all season.
Tillman, who was converted from linebacker to safety in the
pros, wore No. 42 at Arizona State from 1994-97 and the school is
retiring that number on Nov. 13.