Tillman appears on United Kingdom podcast|
January 10th, 2014
It may not qualify Charles Tillman as an “international man of mystery” a la Austin Powers. But the Bears cornerback was recently interviewed by a Bears fan club based in the United Kingdom.
Appearing on the Bears Head Inn podcast on Beardownuk.com, Tillman discussed the origins of his football career, the position other than cornerback he played in college, and being longtime teammates with all-time greats Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs.
Tillman revealed that he began playing organized football in eighth grade and feels that he benefitted from playing high school ball in Texas, where the sport is extremely popular.
“I think I have an advantage because I played football in Texas,” Tillman said. “Football in Texas is like ‘Friday Night Lights.’ It’s religion. You’re playing a high school game in front of 10,000 fans every Friday night. I’m from a small country town (Copperas Cove) and I remember they used to close everything down for the game because that’s where everybody was.”
Tillman grew up in a military family, attending 11 schools from kindergarten through 12th grade.
“I definitely think I benefitted from my dad being in the military,” he said. “When your dad is in the military and you’re moving from school to school so often, you’re kind of put on the spot where you have to learn and adapt and grow really fast, and I employ that on the field.
“What do you do on defense? You’re reacting, you’re responding. You’re getting things on the fly. I think that’s somewhat why I’ve been able to be successful in football from the standpoint that I’ve adapted my whole life and to me it’s easier than for most because I’ve been doing it so long.”
After playing cornerback and receiver at Copperas Cove High School, Tillman was happy to line up exclusively on defense at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.
“I felt like defense was easier and more fun,” Tillman said. “I get to hit people and there’s something fun about that. Maybe I’m a little slow or I have a couple of screws missing. But I like to hit people. That’s the part of the game that I enjoy the most. It’s fun.
“I think I have the best job in the world. I get to hit people and people get excited when I hit people. They want more. We’re like gladiators. So I think that’s why I chose defense.”
A four-year starter at Louisiana-Lafayette, Tillman moved from cornerback to free safety midway through his senior season to help replace an injured teammate.
“When I got drafted by the Bears, I didn’t know if they drafted me to play corner or to play safety,” Tillman said. “I had no clue. I was so raw at corner and safety. I truly hadn’t honed in on my skill set at either position, so at that particular time in my career it really didn’t matter.”
Tillman feels extremely fortunate to have played his entire career to this point with Briggs. The two arrived together in the 2003 draft and both became starters in the fourth game of their rookie season against the Raiders.
“Our story is a little unique,” Tillman said. “We both started the fourth game of the season and we’ve been starting ever since. To me, that’s great. He’s one of my best friends, if not my best friend on the team. I love him like a brother. He’s just been a really good classmate to have along this ride.”
Tillman also loved teaming with Urlacher, a future Hall of Famer who retired following the 2012 season after playing 13 seasons with the Bears.
“Brian was another veteran leader that I learned a lot from,” Tillman said. “Playing with him for 10 years, he was truly a great captain, great person, great humanitarian and great leader. He’s just an all-around great guy. He’d give you the shirt off his back. That’s just the kind of guy Brian is.”