During a recent media tour to promote one of the Cornerstone Foundation’s signature events, Charles Tillman had some interesting things to say about his exploits on and off the football field.
Appearing on the “Carmen and Jurko Show” on ESPN 1000 in Chicago, the two-time Bears Pro Bowl cornerback revealed that he would like to return next year for a 13th NFL season.
“I still want to go out and play,” said Tillman, who has spent his entire career with the Bears since being selected in the second round of the 2003 draft out of Louisiana Lafayette. “Naturally I think I’m getting near the end, but that’s not to say that I’m done after this season.”
Tillman appeared in studio on ESPN to tout his Fifth Annual Celebrity Waiter Night Oct. 13 at The Montgomery Club in Chicago. Tillman and several of his current and former teammates will help serve four courses of Gibson’s cuisine and fine wine to those in attendance.
The popular event traditionally raises funds for the most important programs coordinated by the Cornerstone Foundation, the charitable organization that Tillman created in 2005.
One such program is “Charles’ Locker,” which provides children and their families with access to iPads, notebook computers, DVD players, portable PlayStation game systems and other electronic handheld games in hospitals to pass the time during recovery and treatment.
Another is the “TendHER Heart Luncheon,” which annually honors more than 150 mothers of chronically and critically ill children for the sacrifices they make in caring for their sick children.
Tillman told ESPN that he’s confident the Bears defense will rebound this season after uncharacteristically struggling with injuries and ineffectiveness in 2013.
“We have a d-line. We have a pass rush this year,” Tillman said. “Any coach you talk to—a good coach—they’ll tell you it all starts up front. In the past, we’ve had great d-lines. [But] we didn’t really have that last year. This year with Jeremiah Ratliff, Lamarr Houston and Jared Allen, I think those three guys alone will help us and make us that much better.”
Tillman has been impressed with Bears first-round draft pick, rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller, who follows two older brothers into the NFL.
“He seems like a great kid,” Tillman said. “I foresee Kyle having a long career in this business. He’s a really good kid and he’s going to blossom and just keep growing. He comes from a football family. He reminds me of me as a rookie except he’s 10 times smarter than me as a rookie. I didn’t have that football knowledge like he possesses right now as a young 22-year-old rookie.”
During a television appearance on FOX-32’s “Good Day Chicago," Tillman explained that the Cornerstone Foundation changed its mission from focusing on education to helping improve the lives of sick children after his young daughter, Tiana, underwent a life-saving heart transplant.
“Since then we’ve had the privilege and honor of meeting tons of families and just kind of hearing their stories,” Tillman said. “I truly believe that everybody has a story in their own unique way and they want to share it, and I’m all about listening. We’re just trying to turn our situation into something positive. We’ve been truly blessed.”
Tillman also discussed receiving the 2013 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, the only league honor that recognizes a player’s community service as well as his playing excellence.
"Out of all the things that I've done, that night was probably at the top of my list," Tillman said. "It was just epic - Radio City Music Hall, the Commissioner. There were a ton of Hall of Famers there, and to have those guys come up and shake my hand, to me that was huge."