Charles Tillman Retires After 13 Years in the League
Charles Tillman, a 13-year NFL veteran cornerback, has decided to walk away from the game of football. He released a three minute Youtube video to say farewell in the most Peanut way possible. He spent 12 seasons with the Chicago Bears and his final season with the Carolina Panthers. He battled many injuries in the last few years of his career, but enjoyed a very productive decade of ball prior.
Charles “Peanut” Tillman was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the second round of the 2003 NFL Draft out of Louisiana-Lafayette. He quickly became the number 1 corner for the Bears and was a solid piece to all the early middle 2000’s Bears’ defenses. Lovie Smith preached turnovers during his tenure with Chicago and the game may never see another player as skilled at creating turnovers than Peanut.
Being a cornerback, it is expected for them to intercept the ball frequently to be recognized as a good player at the respective position. He did just this in his career, ending with 38 picks, with nine of those being returned for touchdowns. The nine returns are a Bears’ franchise record and 38 interceptions tie him with Gary Fencik for most in Bears history as well.
He was tasked with defending the opponents number one receiver more times than not and has covered some of the best receivers the game have ever seen in Calvin “Megatron” Johnson and Randy Moss. They both played in the Bears’ division, so Tillman seen them twice a year for a good portion of his career. While they obviously got their catches and touchdowns because it was nearly impossible to completely stop them, Peanut held his own like none other.
Leaving single coverage on Moss or Megatron inside the 10 yard line was almost unheard of. Well, Peanut was left on those islands on more than a few occasions and stood tall. In fact, arguably the single best play of Charles Tillman’s career was ripping a jump ball away from Randy Moss in the endzone to secure a Bears victory over the rival Vikings.
Not Your Typical Corner
The interceptions and shadowing of the top receivers in the game surprisingly will not take up a majority of a Charles Tillman career highlight tape. Forced fumbles defined Peanut’s career. Charles Tillman forced a staggering 44 fumbles during his 13 years playing cornerback. To put this into perspective, the great Ray Lewis only forced 17 fumbles during his career.
Now because forced fumbles is not an actual statistic because they have only been keeping track of them since 1991, it is hard to say where exactly he is on that list all time. However, since entering the league he is second to only Robert Mathis in forced fumbles. Keep in mind Mathis is rushing the passer and Tillman is a defensive back. He is the only defensive back in the top 10 of forced fumbles and almost doubling the amount of the next defensive back on the list, Charles Woodson.
On November 12th, 2012, Tillman forced four fumbles in one game against the Tennessee Titans. There are players that go entire seasons not forcing a single fumble and he had four in one game. It was one of the great defensive performances in NFL history, but is greatly overlooked because one handed catches and spectacular returns are much more exciting than forced fumbles.
Great Player, Better Person
Charles Tillman was underrated for most of his career, but was quietly one of the best in the game and arguably the greatest cornerback in Chicago Bears history. He will be remembered not only for the plays he made on the field, but also the ones he made off of it. He was recognized for this in 2013 when he was named the Walter Payton Man of the Year. He has provided pediatric hospitals with all types of entertaining systems to help pass the time while hospitalized.
He has donated well over $1 million to over 300 families classified as at-risk or in need. Peanut was a class act both on the gridiron and off and will no doubt continue to give back and be involved in the community now that his career is over.
He ends his career with 38 interceptions, 44 forced fumbles, 9 touchdowns (one from a fumble recovery) and one city that will remember him forever.
(Charles Tillman Retires)(Charles Tillman Retires)