Charles Tillman led a remarkable NFL career. Over 13 seasons, he was one of the absolute best at what he did. Tillman played for both the Chicago Bears and Carolina Panthers, but most notably fans will remember his 12 years in the windy city.
Tillman retired after the 2015 campaign. He finished his career with a whopping 44 forced fumbles and 38 interceptions. To this day, no defensive back has forced more fumbles over their career than Tillman. Also, during his time in the league, the next closest player to his overall number of forced fumbles was less than half the overall amount Tillman was at — pretty incredible.
His nickname, ‘peanut,’ was even used to tagline a phrase known as the ‘peanut punch,’ where he would literally punch the ball out of a ballcarrier’s arms.
What many might not know about Tillman, aside from his football prowess, is his love for criminal justice. Tillman has always been a soft-spoken intellectual type of man who stands for what is right. It dates all the way back to his passion for such a topic, leading him to earn his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.
Tillman would go on to hear his name drafted by the Bears in the second round of the 2003 NFL Draft. One of his dreams had come true, and boy did he make the most of it.
The Bears gave out their largest contract to a cornerback in team history when they signed Tillman to a six year, $40.55 million extension back in 2007 after his rookie contract had run out.
The two-time Pro Bowler was named Walter Payton Man of the Year back in 2013 for all of his efforts within the community. Tillman’s foundation, the Charles Tillman Cornerstone Foundation, has now impacted over one million kids in the Chicago area. From their website, here is their mission:
“The mission of the Charles Tillman Cornerstone Foundation is to provide opportunities and resources to children and their families who are in need. Since 2005, Charles Tillman’s charitable efforts have impacted the lives of thousands of critically and chronically ill children and their families.”
Tillman knows exactly how it feels to be a parent of a child in desperate need. His daughter, at three months of age, was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy and was in need of a heart transplant.
A few years back, Tillman recalled the moment with Yahoo Sports.
“It was hard for me to pray, because I didn’t know if it was right for me to pray for a heart for my child because I knew that for my child to live, somebody else’s child had to die. It’s a tough pill to swallow.”
Thankfully, his daughter Tiana, was able to find a donor in time.
“It was about eight hours of surgery, and we just waited. She came out stable, and she was awesome.”
Tillman has been through quite a bit in his life, but he still continues to give back. Hopefully the next step in doing so comes due to his newfound position as an FBI agent.