Tillman not worried about football future
January 9th, 2014
After a frustrating 2013 season, Charles Tillman is slated to become a free agent in March. He hopes to return to the Bears, but the two-time Pro Bowler isn’t fretting about an uncertain future.
“I’m not really worried about it,” Tillman said recently. “I’ve got some decisions that I have to make here in the next couple of months. I don’t know. I’m just going to see what happens.”
Tillman missed the final seven games of the season with a torn triceps muscle he sustained in a Week 10 loss to the Lions. Without him, the Bears dropped four of their final six games and failed to earn a playoff berth for the sixth time in seven years since reaching the Super Bowl in 2006.
“It was frustrating from the standpoint of not making the playoffs,” Tillman said. “It was frustrating for me not being able to help my teammates out when I felt like they needed me. There was a lot of frustration this year for me not being out there with my teammates.”
The Bears defense was decimated by injuries in 2013. The unit also lost tackles Henry Melton and Nate Collins, linebacker D.J. Williams and nickel back Kelvin Hayden to season-ending injuries, while linebacker Lance Briggs missed seven games with a fractured shoulder.
No one, however, was missed more than Tillman, who holds Bears’ all-time records with nine defensive touchdowns, eight interception return TDs and 675 interception return yards.
“We dearly missed the on-the-field leadership of Charles Tillman after his injury,” said general manager Phil Emery. “He is a physical, playmaking football player who players greatly respect. All of his teammates respect him. His loss had a significant impact on where we were at as a defense.”
In eight games, Tillman recorded 52.5 tackles, 2.5 tackles-for-loss, three interceptions and four pass breakups and three forced fumbles. He now has 42 forced fumbles in his 11-year NFL career, the most by any player during that period of time.
Tillman, who was selected by the Bears in the second round of the 2003 draft out of Louisiana-Lafayette, also has 36 interceptions, the most ever by a Bears cornerback and the third most in franchise history overall behind safeties Gary Fencik (38) and Richie Petitbon (37).
It’s unclear whether Tillman will have an opportunity to add to that total—he’s one of 25 Bears players slated to become a free agent—but he can’t imagine playing elsewhere.
“Chicago has been great,” Tillman said. “Chicago is great. They’ve got great owners, great fans, great teammates. This is a great team. It’s a great organization. Eleven years here is truly an honor. I’m truly blessed with the McCaskey family with what they’ve done, for them taking a chance on a little scrawny kid out of Louisiana-Lafayette.”
Fellow cornerback Tim Jennings, who re-signed with the Bears Jan. 2, believes that Tillman will be motivated primarily by where he has the best chance to win a championship.
“All I know is that Peanut wants to win now,” Jennings said. “He wants to win. He’s going to [explore] his options and make the best decision for him and his family. When it comes to that point in your career, it’s all about what fits you best and winning.”
While Tillman isn’t certain where he will be playing next season—he has no plans to retire—he’s not going to lose any sleep about the future.
“I’m OK with it,” Tillman said. “It’s the first time in my life that I’ve had to make decisions like this. But I don’t know. I’m just kind of waiting to see how it plays out. I’m not stressing. I’m not worried about it. Whatever happens is going to happen. Whatever happens is going to be for the good.”