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Tillman a Finalist for 2013 NFL Man of the Year Award
January 20, 2014

Due in large part to his work with the Cornerstone Foundation he created in 2005, Bears cornerback Charles Tillman has been chosen as one of three finalists for the 2013 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.

The prestigious award, which is named after the late Bears Hall of Fame running back, is the only league honor that recognizes a player’s community service as well as his playing excellence. It has been in existence since 1970 and honors NFL players who demonstrate outstanding balance in their lives between civic and professional responsibilities.

In 1999, the NFL named its Man of the Year Award after Payton as a tribute to his greatness both on and off the field. The Bears legend died on Nov. 1, 1999 of liver disease at the age of 45.

The other two finalists for the award are Thomas Davis of the Carolina Panthers and Jay Feely of the Arizona Cardinals. The winner will be announced Feb. 1 in New York, the site of Super Bowl XLVIII, during the third annual NFL Honors awards special on FOX.

The selection panel consists of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, Hall of Famers Frank Gifford and Anthony Munoz, 2012 winner Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys, Sports Illustrated writer Peter King and Connie Payton, Walter’s widow.

The winner of the award will receive a $20,000 donation from the NFL, on top of the $5,000 that each of the three finalists are awarded and the $1,000 that all 32 team nominees receive.

Tillman has shown a passion for football and giving to those in need since he arrived in Chicago in 2003 after being selected by the Bears in the second round of the draft out of Louisiana-Lafayette.

In 11 seasons, the two-time Pro Bowler has set Bears career records with nine defensive touchdowns, eight interception return TDs and 675 interception return yards. Since Tillman entered the league, he is the only NFL player with more than 30 interceptions and 30 forced fumbles.

Tillman’s contributions off of the field are equally as impressive as his work on it. Since he created the Cornerstone Foundation, his efforts have impacted over one million children and raised over $1 million. The foundation’s signature programs include “Charles’ Locker,” “Field of Dreams,” “Holiday Celebration,” “TendHER Heart Luncheon” and “The Tiana Fund.”

Charles’ Locker provides pediatric hospital patients with access to iPads, laptops, gaming systems and other kinds of entertainment to help pass the time during their hospital stays and annually reaches more than 370,000 children. The Tiana Fund has distributed more than $1 million to over 300 families who have been identified by local organizations as at-risk or in-need. The support is provided to families and individuals to strengthen their ability to care for themselves, enhance their stability and security, and improve their quality of life.

The foundation initially provided children with educational opportunities and resources to excel in the classroom. But after Tillman’s three-month-old daughter, Tiana, was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy and received a life-saving heart transplant in 2008, the mission was changed to improving the lives of critically and chronically ill children.

Tillman and his wife, Jackie, also contribute their time and resources to local, national and international organizations outside of the Cornerstone Foundation. The Tillmans have helped build a school in Cambodia, sponsored children through the Urban Promise program in Camden, New Jersey, and have purchased and donated over 700 tickets to Bears home games since 2008 through the Bears Home Team Hand-Off program.

Tillman is also an avid supporter of the military, and has participated in a USO tour to Iraq, volunteered with the USO of Illinois on Thanksgiving to serve meals to local troops, and provided soldiers with tickets to games at Soldier Field during the 2013 season.

Tillman was chosen as a finalist for the Payton Award in 2011 and has been selected as the Bears nominee five of the last seven years, including each of the last three years.

“Just be being the Bears nominee, I feel like I’ve already won,” Tillman said. “I want the foundation to get the recognition, not me personally, because I’m just one of many people who are part of something great, and that’s helping to run the foundation. The publicity the foundation gets, to me that winning. Helping out those families, that’s winning.”