Behind The Scenes

The Lineup: 10 most emotional and memorable moments from OTL’s Pat Tillman special

Last night, Outside the Lines commemorated the 10th anniversary of former NFL star Pat Tillman’s death with an hour-long special hosted by Bob Ley, “Pat Tillman: 10 Years Later; An Enduring Tragedy.”

The show received widespread social media praise and mainstream attention.

Today’s OTL (3 p.m. ET, ESPN) will include highlights from last night’s show.

Here, Front Row presents 10 of the most emotional and unforgettable moments from the special.:

1. Tillman’s friend and Arizona Cardinals teammate, Jake Plummer, opened the show describing how special their relationship was to him. “Most people remember Pat Tillman for the way he died,” Plummer said. “I’ll always remember Pat for the way he lived.”

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2. In his retelling of the friendly fire incident, Steven Elliott breaks down in tears.

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3. Platoonmate Bryan O’Neal, who was near Tillman when he was struck said, “I just remember hearing him say ‘Why are you shooting at me? I’m Pat [expletive] Tillman. I’m Pat [expletive] Tillman. Why are you shooting at me?’. . . Not long after that I discovered Pat was dead.”

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4. Reporter John Barr (standing on the shoulders of reporting done by Mike Fish) asked O’Neal if he had found a way to forgive those who shot at him that day. “I guess to say I forgive somebody means I have think about them,” O’Neal said. “And I don’t. You know they’re meaningless to me. I guess to forgive them would be to acknowledge they exist and to me they’re nothing. . . all of them.”

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5. “In the years since Tillman’s death,” Barr reported, “O’Neal and Elliott say they’ve never spoken.”

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6. Coming out of the piece, Ley explained, “That is where our reporting stood until today. . . when these two men began to reconcile – today. . . first by text this morning” with Elliott texting O’Neal.

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7. The two men then did separate phone interviews with Ley. First, Elliott spoke about the reconciliation. “. . . [As] soon as I was notified that Bryan was willing to be in communication, I texted him, I gathered my thoughts and texted him,” Elliott said. “I think obviously there’s a tremendous amount of common ground and not the least of which is around the fact that we both lost somebody that we very much cared about.”

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8. Next, O’Neal spoke with Ley about how he came to the point of wanting to reconcile. “Literally it was probably the first time I saw the initial program air on the Internet through,” he said. “I started really thinking that. . . here’s Elliott who seems absolutely heartbroken and remorseful and he’s taking the step to come forward and admit that he was wrong and you know it made me think that I need to probably soften my heart a little bit. . . I had no intention of it being on today, the anniversary. . . it’s just sometimes I’m kind of impulsive. . . maybe today is the day to go ahead and talk to Elliott and maybe, you know, repair this relationship that’s been severed over the past 10 years.

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9. Later in the show, Tillman’s former college teammate and ex-Marine, Jeremy Staat, remembered his friend thusly, “There’s no words that can really express the character of the man. The guy was just true grit.”

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10. The show’s final segment included Tom Rinaldi’s piece on Pat’s former wife Marie Tillman, where she reads a letter Pat had left her “just in case the worst was to happen.”

“I think grief is messy and complicated…,” Marie said. “The letter was really this special gift that Pat had left behind in that it gave me not only permission to move forward and live my life but it was his last request…”

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