Longtime CB Charles Tillman retires as member of Bears

Associated Press

July 23, 2016

           

Charles Tillman speaks at a news conference at Halas Hall in Lake Forest, Ill., Friday, July 22, 2016, after signing a one-day contract with the Chicago Bears so he can officially retire as a member of the team that drafted him in 2003. Tillman spent his first 12 seasons with the Bears and went to two Pro Bowls and a Super Bowl with them. Last season he started 12 games with the Carolina Panthers before suffering a season-ending knee injury and missed the team's run to the Super Bowl.

LAKE FOREST, Ill. Charles Tillman doesn't have many regrets after his 13-year career in the NFL, most of it with the Chicago Bears.

But there is one.

The ball-hawking cornerback known for his "peanut punch" after forcing 44 career fumbles is sorry he did not become the first member of the NFL's 40-40 club for forced fumbles and interceptions, falling two picks short. Oh, and about that nickname.

"I don't know who coined the name 'peanut punch,'" Tillman said. "I wish I had gotten into some of that stock so I could have reserved the right to use that for myself. But it worked out."

It did indeed.

The 35-year-old Tillman will forever be known as "Peanut" to Bears fans after he went to two Pro Bowls and a Super Bowl with Chicago, his hometown team. He signed a one-day contract Friday to retire as a member of the team that drafted him in 2003 and where he spent his first 12 years. He had announced his retirement Monday.

He started 12 games last season with the Carolina Panthers before suffering a season-ending knee injury and missed the team's run to the Super Bowl.

Tillman has the most interceptions by a cornerback in Bears history at 36, trailing only safeties Gary Fencik (38) and Richie Petitbon (37). Tillman also owns Bears records with nine defensive touchdowns and eight interception returns for touchdowns.

"You saw me turn into a man in front of your own eyes," Tillman said at a news conference Friday as he listed some of his favorite career moments over the years.

In his rookie season, he got his first start against the Raiders in Week 5 and had a touchdown-saving, victory-clinching pass breakup against the Vikings' Randy Moss 10 weeks later.

"It showed the world that I could play with anybody," Tillman said. "I know when I came from Louisiana(-Lafayette), when I got drafted, there were a lot people who were like, 'Who the hell is Charles Tillman? What school is that? Where's U-La-La?" And I had a chip on my shoulder."

Tillman said he had considered retirement for months after tearing one of his anterior cruciate ligaments in December.

"Once I tried to talk myself into coming back like three times, I knew it was time for me to walk away," he said.

Bears Chairman George McCaskey praised Tillman as a rare player "with uncommon ability and tenacity on the field and unsurpassed compassion and charitable spirit off the field." Tillman was selected in 2013 as the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year for the philanthropic work done through his foundation.

Notes: Chicago terminated defensive back Omar Bolden's contract on Friday.