Tillman & Foundation Receive Recognition from President, Teammates, Coaches, & Opponents|
November 14th, 2012
Charles Tillman has won NFC player of the month and player of the week awards this season. But that’s not the only recognition the Bears cornerback has received for his All-Pro caliber play.
Making impact plays throughout the season, Tillman has been praised by everyone from the President of the United States to future Hall of Fame teammates, coaches and even opponents.
During an ESPN interview Nov. 5 on the eve of the election, President Barack Obama answered a question about his favorite team by saying he thinks the Bears are good enough to win the Super Bowl and “Tillman may be the defensive player of the year the way he’s playing.”
Tillman 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.
He then forced a career-high four fumbles Nov. 4 in a 51-20 rout of the Tennessee 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 league in 2003.
“He is such a talented player,” said linebacker Lance Briggs, who was part of the same 2003 Bears draft class as Tillman. “He has done some things in the NFL that no one has ever done before and people will try to mimic years after.
“We are all seeing history being made. I’ve never seen anybody who’s been able to do the things he’s able to do, and to do it so consistently. Right now I can tell you he is the defensive player of the year. Hands down right now there is no one playing better than him.”
Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, who has also teamed with Tillman since 2003, concurred.
“He gets better every single year,” Urlacher said. “He’s perfect for our defense. He’s a big corner for cover-two and he’s a good ‘man’ corner. He plays good in cover-three, he’s over the top and he can tackle. Our corners have to tackle, and he can do that.”
Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, who has been in the coaching profession since 1976, said that he’s never worked with a player as adept at stripping the ball as Tillman.
“I don’t know if there’s ever been anybody in the league that good at it, Marinelli said. “I mean he does it every day, and they’re holding the ball tight. It’s awesome what he can do. He’s a special player, and everybody’s starting to see it right now.”
Tillman’s performance against the Titans was even more impressive when you consider that he punched the ball away from four different players who had been warned about his unique skill.
“What our coaches talked about all week was that these guys were No. 1 in the league in taking the ball away,” said Tennessee quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. “This is what they do. In particular, the coaches talked about Charles Tillman on how he does a great job of getting the ball out.
“We talked about it. Every time I’ve played the Bears we talk about it. They are very good at it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen them do such an amazing job of getting the ball out.”
Tillman created the first of five Bears takeaways on the game’s first play from scrimmage when he punched the ball away from Titans receiver Kenny Britt following a 23-yard reception.
“Charles Tillman set the tempo,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said after the game. “We could talk the rest of the day about Charles and what he’s done before this game, during this game, and at practice taking the ball away. He’s got a special talent doing that.”
Tillman’s teammates are happy that he’s finally receiving the recognition he’s deserved.
“Charles Tillman has been an integral part of our defense since he’s gotten here in 2003,” Briggs said. “He’s getting a lot of attention now. He should have been getting it for the past 10 years. He’s played at a high level. He’s an elite player and has always played at a high level. Now in Year 10 he’s taken it up to another level. He’s a defensive player of the year type player.”
“Peanut should be getting a ton of recognition,” Urlacher said. “Look at his stats. He’s caused  fumbles, has  picks. It didn’t happen in the last two years. He’s played 10 years. He’s had those picks and all those big plays his whole career. It’s not just the one year he’s done it. I’m glad he’s getting it now because he deserves it.”