Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman is praised for his accomplishments both on and off the football field in the latest edition of the magazine Modern Luxury Men’s Book Chicago.
In the article entitled “A Relentless Pursuit” by Dan Hyman, Tillman is described as “a man with clear vision and purpose” who doubles as “one of Chicago’s most notable athletes” as well as “a key member of its philanthropic community.”
It’s that combination that helped Tillman win 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.
Beginning his 12th season with the Bears, Tillman holds franchise records with nine defensive touchdowns, eight interception return TDs and 675 interception return yards. He also has 36 interceptions, the most ever by a Bears cornerback and the third most in team history overall behind safeties Gary Fencik (38) and Richie Petitbon (37).
Since Tillman was selected by the Bears in the second round of the 2003 draft out of Louisiana-Lafayette, his 42 forced fumbles are the most in the NFL. In addition, he’s the only player in the league with more than 30 interceptions and 30 forced fumbles during that span.
Tillman’s success is due in part to being a perfectionist who is never satisfied.
“I’m my own worst critic,” Tillman says in the Modern Luxury Men’s Book Chicago article. “I’ve been in this game 12 years and to this day I’ve never played a perfect game. I still strive for that perfection. I think we all do.”
Tillman’s contributions off the field are equally as impressive. Since he created the Cornerstone Foundation in 2005, 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.”
The Cornerstone 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 other local, national and international organizations. They 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.
In addition, Tillman is 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.
"[Jackie and I] feel like it's our responsibility to do our part," Tillman says in the magazine article. "By no means am I trying to cure cancer or find a cure for HIV. I wish I could, but I'm not that smart. But the Lord has blessed me. He's given me a platform. He's given me this position, and I feel like it's my personal responsibility to give back."