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Pat Tillman Legacy Means Something To J.J. Watt

New Cardinals defensive end already was working with Tillman Foundation

One of the first things J.J. Watt did during his initial tour of the Dignity Health Training Center Tuesday upon his arrival was post a picture on Instagram of Pat Tillman's locker, which resides in a hallway just off the cafeteria as one walks to the weight and training rooms.

Then on Wednesday morning, he posted another photo on Twitter, standing in front of the locker with the message, "a true honor to walk these same halls."

"I've obviously long been a fan of Pat Tillman – what he stood for, who he was and everything about his legacy is unbelievable to me," Watt said.

That Watt chose to play for the same team as Tillman once did is coincidence. But the newest Cardinal already had a connection to Tillman, and teased a project he has been working on in conjunction with Tillman's widow Marie and the Tillman Foundation that has already been in the works for about six months and that should be unveiled soon.

Watt said he always tries to work with the military on something each year, because "I truly believe that they're the ones that deserve the amount of praise and fame that we as athletes get because they're the ones that protect us and protect our freedoms and give us the opportunity to play this game for a living." The Tillman Foundation was a natural.

Community service is a large part of Watt's world. The greatest example was his organic effort to raise money in Houston after Hurricane Harvey, which ultimately raised $37 million.

That Watt can have that mesh with his admiration of Pat Tillman -- and now, play for the same franchise -- resonated with the three-time Defensive Player of the Year.

"To be here, to be walking the same halls that he walked and to see his locker (Tuesday) was special for me," Watt said.

J.J. Watt in front of Tillman locker in March 2021

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