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Charles on the Radio
December 14th, 2012

Charles Tillman Cornerstone Foundation, prolanthropyDuring a 90-minute appearance on WSCR-AM 670 this week, Bears cornerback Charles Tillman discussed Sunday’s showdown with the Packers and the perception that he’s improving with age.

The Bears (8-5) were sitting pretty atop the NFC North with a 7-1 record a little over a month ago, but have since lost four of five to fall one game behind the Packers (9-4), who can clinch the division title with a win Sunday at Soldier Field.

“We’ve got to go do it the hard way,” Tillman said. “There’s no secret formula. We’ve got to win it the hard way. That’s the bottom line. We’ve got to win out. Our destiny was set in front of us, but they never said it was going to be easy. That’s the attitude and the mindset we have right now.”

The Bears went 7-3 against the Packers from 2004-08, but have since lost seven of eight meetings, including the last five straight. But Tillman believes his team can stop that skid.

“I don’t think Sunday will be an easy win,” Tillman said. “Is it definitely attainable? Sure. It will be difficult for us. But I’m confident in myself and definitely in my teammates.

“I couldn’t even sit in this chair if I didn’t think we had a chance of winning. I wouldn’t even go into a game like that. I don’t think like that. I definitely think Sunday is doable for us. I’m not saying it’s easy. But it’s definitely doable.” 

The Packers offense is led by quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the reigning NFL MVP whose 104.0 career passer rating is the best in league history. Green Bay also boasts an improved running game that features unheralded backs Alex Green and DuJuan Harris.

“You’ve got to pick your poison,” Tillman said. “Aaron Rodgers is one of the greatest in the game throwing the ball. He can definitely pick you apart if he has enough time. Then the running backs they have, they get guys off the street and they get into their offense and do great running the ball.”

Beating the Packers will be even more difficult given that the Bears have suffered a rash of injuries the past few weeks. But Tillman is eager to see how his depleted team responds.

“When faced with adverse times like this, your character really reveals who you are as a person, and I think you’re going to see that,” he said. “Some guys will bend, some guys will fold, and some guys will step up and make the plays that they need to make.”

Tillman has made those plays all season. He was named NFC defensive player of the month for October after returning interceptions for touchdowns in back-to-back road wins in Dallas and Jacksonville and limiting Lions Pro Bowl receiver Calvin Johnson to three receptions for 34 yards.

Tillman then forced a career-high four fumbles Nov. 4 in a win over the Titans, increasing his season total to seven and giving him 36 forced fumbles in his career, the most among NFL defensive backs since he entered the NFL in 2003.

While happy to receive recognition for his efforts, Tillman doesn’t feel like he’s performing any better than he has in the past.

“I’ve always been playing at this level; I think people are just starting to notice it now,” Tillman said. “I don’t feel like I’m getting better with age. I feel like I’ve been consistent throughout my 10 years in the league and people are just finally starting to take notice.”

Tillman credits his continued success in part to the work ethic his parents instilled in him.

“They taught me how to work hard,” Tillman said. “It’s just like the expression: ‘the more you sweat in peace time, the less you bleed in war.’ I train hard all the time. It’s a 24/7 job how we train and how we always have to be in shape.”