LOSING A LEGEND
Fri, 2016-07-22 12:45 News Staff
Cove alum and 2013 NFL Man of the Year Charles “Peanut” Tillman calls it quits after 13 years
By TJ MAXWELL
Charles “Peanut” Tillman literally hung up his cleats in a humorous video where he knocked random things from the hands of multiple people including his daughter before punching a time clock and hanging up his cleats for the final time. The video announcing his retirement from the NFL after 13 seasons was a fitting parody to his National Football League career.
Tillman, a second round draft by the Chicago Bears out of Louisiana-Lafayette in 2003, gained notoriety for what became known as the “Peanut Punch,” a move in which Tillman would literally punch the ball free from opponent’s hands. Tillman was a turnover machine, forcing nearly 80 in 12 seasons with the Bears. He had 42 forced fumbles and 36 interceptions while finding pay dirt nine times as a Bear. The 36 interceptions and nine defensive scores are each franchise records.
“I’ve had 13 amazing years on two great teams and I’m just thankful for the love and support that I got from my teammates, the fans and my coaches,” Tillman told ChicagoBears.com. “I’m thankful to everyone who has helped me get to where I am right now because I definitely didn’t do it by myself.”
Tillman added two more forced fumbles and two interceptions in his final season as a member of the NFC Champion Carolina Panthers before suffering a season-ending knee injury.
“I just felt like it was time to do it,” Tillman said about the timing of his retirement. “I’m going out on my own terms and I figured, ‘what the heck, Monday, July 18, I think I’ll do it today.’”
Tillman’s most productiveyear as a Bear was the 2012 campaign where he forced 10 fumbles, snagged three interceptions, had 16 pass break ups and three defensive scores.
Fans that can only envision Tillman in Chicago Bears white, Navy blue and burnt orange can rest assured that they haven’t seen that for the last time as Tillman retired as a Bear on Thursday
Fans can also rest assured that they’ve not seen the last of “Peanut” on Sundays either as it was also announced on Thursday that Tillman will join the cast of Fox’s NFL Kickoff Show.
“I am really looking forward to getting right back into the swing of things with Fox Sports,” Tillman said in a press release. “My family and I are very excited about this next chapter in my life.”
Beyond football, Tillman was a champion for critically and chronically ill children and their families in the Chicago area with the Charles Tillman Cornerstone Foundation.
Tillman’s efforts for the children of Chicago were recognized with the 2013 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award where he joined another area great in Waco University alum LaDainian Tomlinson (2006 NFL Man of the Year).
Tillman made 12 starts in his final season with the Carolina Panthers before suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during the regular season finale.
Tillman also suffered season-ending triceps injuries during his final two seasons with the Bears in 2013-14.
His injury-marred final seasons doesn’t take away from one of the most prolific careers of any Chicago Bears defender in a list that has names like Hall of Famers Jack Lambert, Mike Singletary and Dick Butkus and soon-to-be Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher.
Tillman’s stellar career for the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns from 1999-2002 earned him a 35th overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft. Tillman was a four-year starter at cornerback and led the Ragin’ Cajuns in interceptions in his final three seasons. He finished his career ranked fifth in school history with 12 interceptions and his 284 career tackles ranks second all-time among defensive backs.
Tillman was the first-ever Ragin’ Cajun to be selected to the All-Sun Belt Conference team. Tillman’ No. 5 jersey was retired during a 2014 ceremony to be just the eighth player ever to receive that honor.
Tillman was named to the 8-5A All-District and All- Area teams twice during his time as a wide receiver for the Copperas Cove Bulldawgs.