|Saturday, October 26
Updated: October 27, 9:24 AM ET
Tillman graduates from infantry training brigade
By Len Pasquarelli
Officials at Fort Benning (Ga.) confirmed that Pat Tillman graduated Friday from the United States Army infantry training brigade, moving the former Arizona Cardinals safety a step closer to his goal of becoming a member of the elite Ranger force.
A four-year NFL veteran, Tillman, 25, left the NFL this summer, rejecting a number of contract offers, to enlist in the Army. He and his younger brother, who enlisted with Tillman, have steadfastly declined an interview requests, including one by ESPN.com earlier this week.
Tillman served as the flagbearer for his unit, B Company of the 1st Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, during the Friday ceremonies.
"That is a privilege," said sergeant first class Ismael Godoy, the sernior drill sergeant for the 2nd Platoon. "For a soldier to be able to carry the colors for his platoon means that he leads and always leads from the front."
The ceremony concluded 14 weeks of training for Tillman, who friends say was deeply affected by the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Tillman and his brother will now continue their training at airborne school with the goal of becoming Rangers, members of the Army's elite light infantry unit.
Frank Bauer, the agent for Tillman, has reiterated that his client does not yet consider himself retired from the NFL, and that he still plans to return to the game in three years. The league confirmed that Tillman has not officially filed retirement papers.
Tillman was an unrestricted free agent this summer. He fielded several offers, including a three-year, $3.6 million proposal to return to the Cardinals.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.