Tillman thought as eccentrically as he played. During training camp he could be found reading a book while sitting in a tree. During the season, he studied his playbook at an Irish pub.
"We all knew he was just a different kind of person," Walz said. "We all knew he was special."
Walz was driving through Phoenix in the spring of 2002 when he realized just how special. It was 8 a.m., and Tillman was on the phone with some news.
"He told me he was going to leave football and join the Army," Walz said. "I cannot put into words how I felt when I heard that. But I know I felt small."
Tillman, who once said he had been angered and inspired by 9/11, shunned publicity and virtually disappeared into the U.S. Army Rangers.
It wasn't until about a year and a half later that Walz, who has since retired, saw him again. He was in San Jose visiting family when he was literally tackled in the bar by another local kid.
"I got up ready to fight, and then I realized it was Pat," Walz said.
Tillman was home from a first tour in Iraq, he was still only 27, and he had been offered millions of dollars from NFL teams confident he could be discharged early. But he refused to leave the Army before the end of his three-year commitment.
"He said he had to stay," Walz said. "That's when I asked for his dog tags."
Tillman mailed Walz an extra set of the tags, then was deployed to Afghanistan, where, on April 22, 2004, while on patrol, he was killed by gunfire from a U.S. weapon.
The government didn't admit this at first, engaging in a lengthy cover-up, telling the press that Tillman was killed fighting the enemy, engaging in lies that became a centerpiece of the war resistance movement.
But none of this touched the memory of Tillman's sacrifice, the results of which will be evident again Sunday when his former team and its opponent will feel safe enough to run onto an outdoor field and compete in this country's biggest sporting event.
There is a chance if Tillman were still alive, he could be playing in this Super Bowl, a 32-year-old raging special teams star finally being rewarded for his Cardinals devotion.
"He'd be everywhere, he'd make a big play in that game, you know that," Walz said.
In his absence during Super Bowl week, it would be fitting if the football writers would elect Tillman into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. After all, a group including everything that is wrong about sports -- O.J. Simpson -- should also be big enough for everything that is right.
Barring that, it would be great if Zack Walz would just get his dog tags back.
"Nothing for Pat was ever out of the question, nothing was ever out of reach," Walz said. "He would have been so proud of his Cardinals."