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Tillman ranked 34th best player in NFL
June 18th, 2013

Charles Tillman Cornerstone Foundation, prolanthropyBears cornerback Charles Tillman has been voted the 34th best player in the NFL in a poll of league players conducted by NFL Network. The two-time Pro Bowler was featured on a recent episode of “The Top 100 players of 2013,” which unveiled players ranked Nos. 31-40. 

Last season Tillman became the first cornerback in Bears history to be voted to back-to-back Pro Bowls. He tied for the NFL lead with three interception return touchdowns and led the league with a career-high 10 forced fumbles, tied for the most since the NFL starting tracking the stat in 1991. 

Tillman has now forced 39 fumbles in his career, the most by any player since he entered the league in 2003 with the Bears as a second-round draft pick out of Louisiana-Lafayette. 

During an interview on NFL Network’s “Top 100” show, analyst Solomon Wilcots, a former NFL defensive back, tells Tillman that he thinks he should have been rated higher.

“I just believe your ability to take the ball away when it comes to stripping the ball, creating interceptions, in my mind that begs that you should be ranked higher on the list because … that leads to winning games,” Wilcots said. “Those are game-changing plays.” 

With his three interception return touchdowns in 2012, Tillman set the Bears career record for defensive touchdowns with nine, eclipsing the mark of seven held by former safety Mike Brown. 

Tillman also became the Bears’ all-time leader in interceptions by a cornerback with 33, the third most overall in franchise history behind safeties Gary Fencik (38) and Richie Petitbon (37). 

In 2012, Tillman and Tim Jennings became the first cornerbacks from the same team voted to start in the Pro Bowl since Hanford Dixon and Frank Minnifield of the Cleveland Browns in 1988. 

On the “Top 100” show, Tillman credited Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli with the duo’s success, saying: “He always challenged us to have career years and I think myself and Tim, we accepted the challenge. We had a real good coaching staff and once again our d-line did a hell of a job giving us some help.”

Last October, Tillman and linebacker Lance Briggs became the first teammates in NFL history to each return interceptions for touchdowns in back-to-back games. They helped the Bears score nine defensive TDs in 2012, one shy of the NFL record set by the 1961 Chargers. 

One of Tillman’s greatest achievements during the season was limiting Lions superstar receiver Calvin Johnson to three receptions for 34 yards Oct. 22 in Chicago and five catches for 72 yards Dec. 30 in Detroit, helping the Bears sweep the season series. 

In Johnson’s other 14 games in 2012, he averaged eight catches and 133 yards, ultimately setting an NFL single-season record with 1,964 yards. 

On the NFL Network list, Tillman ranked second among cornerbacks, one slot behind the Cardinals’ Patrick Peterson (33rd) and ahead of the Seahawks’ Richard Sherman (50th), the Broncos’ Champ Bailey (53rd), the Jets’ Darrelle Revis (67th), Jennings (69th), the Chiefs’ Brandon Flowers (75th) and the Packers’ Charles Woodson (85th). 

Tillman is one of five Bears players on the “Top 100” list, joining receiver Brandon Marshall (27th), defensive end Julius Peppers (54th), Jennings and Briggs (83rd).