Motives Beyond Money

for the week of June 3, 2002
by Rubel Shelly

Occasionally you hear about it. Oh, there's always a high degree of cynicism around the claim. There is always somebody ready to minimize it or to suggest there is a tawdry explanation beneath the surface. Must we always be so skeptical? So incredulous? I believe such things really happen.

I know a young woman who refused a lucrative position because it would have made her primary career as mother untenable. I have a close friend who chose to stop his meteoric rise within a major national company because it would have moved his wife and children from a spiritual climate they consider ideal. It really does happen: People make major decisions for reasons other than money.

Pat Tillman certainly appears to be another case in point. The 25-year-old free safety for the Arizona Cardinals recently announced that he is suspending his lucrative NFL career to enlist in the Army. He and his younger brother, Kevin, hope to go through boot camp together and join the elite Army Rangers. Kevin, by the way, was in the Cleveland Indians' organization last year.

Is his career on the skids? He has been a starter for the past two seasons. Is this just a ploy to get a better contract offer? He turned down a $9-million, five- year offer from the St. Louis Rams in 2001 and has spurned a multiyear deal with the Cardinals this spring despite his agent's pressure to sign it.

Is he hiding a health problem or injury? He warmed up for last season by competing in a 70.2-mile triathlon in June and finished his fourth NFL season with 478 career tackles and three interceptions. Is he unhappy from a failed personal life? He just got married last month and has the support of his wife for the decision he has made. So is he just plain dumb? He graduated summa cum laude with a 3.84 GPA through his three and one-half year college career.

Believe it or not, some people really do have motives greater and nobler than money. His agent, Frank Bauer, says this young man's decision is consistent with the contemplative, nonmaterialistic nature he has always seen in him. "This is very consistent with how he conducts his life," he said.

"The guy has got something to him," observes Cardinals coach Dave McGinnis, "and that's why I wanted him on the team all these years."

Daring. Resolve. Patriotism. Courage. There really are motives beyond dollars, and people driven by them experience a satisfaction money can't buy.

provided, designed & powered by