In the midst of child abuse allegations, disgusting displays of domestic violence, and a commissioner that just won’t leave (despite public outcry), the NFL is drowning in an ocean of poor publicity this month– a deluge that doesn’t appear to be dissipating any time soon.
Not all NFL players are bad people, of course– as with anything, the media accentuates the negatives, because, frankly, positivity doesn’t garner ratings.
In Chicago, however, we have a perfect example of the kind of generous, selfless person that really should be getting more exposure in the press. That man’s name is Charles Tillman.
Bears Cornerback Charles “Peanut” Tillman doesn’t have the on-field flashiness of some, and maybe, that’s why he’s so damn special. All he’s done since coming to the Bears in 2003 is record 36 interceptions, 42 forced fumbles, nearly 1,000 tackles, 9 TDs, and was one of the driving forces behind the 2005 Super Bowl-bound team’s #1 ranked defense. Oh, he was also Defensive Player of the Year, the first Bears CB to be selected to back-to-back Pro Bowls, and holds several Bears team records. So, yeah, ya know, not all that much or anything.
Off the field, Charles Tillman has been even more impressive (yes, that is even possible). Peanut’s Charles Tillman Cornerstone Foundation, founded after his then-3 month old daughter was diagnosed with Dilated Cardiomyopathy, has helped, literally, over one million children in need in Chicago. In 2013, Tillman was honored with the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, which recognizes a player’s volunteer & charity work, along with his excellence on the field.
Charles Tillman has accomplished all of this, while also serving as a father to four children, a husband to wife Jackie, and, most impressively in the modern-day world of professional athletics: without any major (or minor for that matter) scandals.
You read that right: no DUI arrests. No gambling allegations. No drug charges. No unsupported baby mamas in every city. Nothing like that at all.
Which is why, seeing Tillman on the sidelines Sunday night, after again hurting his triceps (the same injury that knocked him out in 2013), teary-eyed over the prospect of, potentially, never playing another down again– there wasn’t a single Bears fan not heartbroken. 11 years in, Tillman still has the fire to play, and definitely still has the talent to play; but, at 33, his body may have other ideas.
After fans learned he’d been placed on season-ending IR this week, Peanut had this message to share on Twitter:
I know this isn’t the news we all wanted to hear but as they say, stuff happens. I’m truly blessed to have so much support from you all.
— Charles Tillman (@peanuttillman) September 15, 2014
I think you’ve got that one wrong, Charles Tillman: we’re the ones who are blessed.