Iraq war vet starts his career as a pro athlete, a veteran athlete has gone off to join the fighting in Iraq. Former NFL defensive lineman Jeremy Staat (right) will soon start a seven-month deployment along the Syria-Iraq border. At 6'5" and 300 pounds, Staat, 30, was an inch under the height limit and has since shed 40 pounds to make weight for the Marines. A close friend of former Cardinals safety Pat Tillman (they were teammates at Arizona State), Staat had long wanted to serve his country, but he took Tillman's advice and played long enough with the Steelers and the Rams to get his NFL pension. But "when Pat was killed," says Staat's mother, Janet Staat-Goedhart, "that was it." A native of Bakersfield, Jeremy began the process of joining the Marines, and last Thursday his mother got a text message from him in Kuwait. "I asked, 'What does it look like?'" Staat-Goedhart says. "He just said, 'Bakersfield.'"