Football fans are petitioning the National Football League to retire the jersey of a former Arizona Cardinals player who gave his life in service to his nation.
Back in 2002, Cardinals safety Pat Tillman walked away from a successful pro-football career to enlist in the Army. Tillman chose to serve his country following the terrorist attacks in 2001. He served as an Army Ranger until he was killed in battle in Afghanistan in 2004 from "friendly fire."

As we approach the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, fans have started a petition urging the NFL to retire Tillman's No. 40 jersey in honor of his service and sacrifice.

Get our free mobile app

Pat Tillman was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in 1998 as a seventh round pick. He was an All-American linebacker at Arizona State. He set franchise records for the Cardinals in 2000 with 224 tackles. Tillman would turn down a contract from the Cardinals and enlist in the Army in 2002, where he become a Ranger.

Tillman was killed in Afghanistan in April of 2004. It was discovered that he was killed by "friendly fire" after an ambush near the Afghan-Pakistan border. Tillman's family would receive the the Silver Star and Purple Heart.

Following his death, Tillman's family and friends created the Tillman Foundation, an organization created to unite and empower remarkable military service members, veterans and spouses as the next generation of public and private sector leaders committed to service beyond self. The Tillman Foundation has raised more than $20 million since it was created.

The petition was created by Sean Wilson on, and at last check it had just under 5,000 signatures. Wilson says in the petition, "It is my hope that for the rest of time, anytime an unknown person enters an NFL stadium, they will see TILLMAN 40 hanging from the rafters and his story will have to be told and his name will continue to be spoken."

Pat Tillman turned down an NFL contract to enlist in the Army and serve his country. His story deserves to be told and remembered. Retiring his number would keep his story alive for many generations to come.

LOOK: 50 images of winning moments from sports history

Sometimes images are the best way to honor the figures we've lost. When tragedy swiftly reminds us that sports are far from the most consequential thing in life, we can still look back on an athlete's winning moment that felt larger than life, remaining grateful for their sacrifice on the court and bringing joy to millions.

Read on to explore the full collection of 50 images Stacker compiled showcasing various iconic winning moments in sports history. Covering achievements from a multitude of sports, these images represent stunning personal achievements, team championships, and athletic perseverance.

LOOK: The Most Famous Actor Born Every Year

More From KIXS FM 108