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Charles Tillman Honored to be Payton Award Finalist

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    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 03: Charles Tillman of the Chicago Bears, a finalist for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, addresses the media during a news conference on February 3, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

    This week isn't only about football, but also what football players do with the platform they are given. 32 players were nominated for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Word for their charitable work. Only three finalists remain, including Charles Tillman of the Bears.

    He won't forget the spring of 2008, when his three-month-old daughter Tiana's life was saved with a donor heart.

    "I'm just trying to do the same thing. I'm trying to give back like a complete stranger did to me & my family," Tillman told NBC Chicago.

    Tillman's Cornerstone Foundation does just that, helping chronically & critically ill children and their families throughout Illinois. The foundation does everything from throw parties for children and caregivers to relieve the stress of their lives to supply local pediatric centers with toys, games and computers to help children pass the time in the hospital.

    "Self-fulfillment is the word that can best describe it. It's a joy to see you give to a complete stranger and they are so grateful for whatever you did for them. It doesn't get any better than that."

    Tillman has been recognized as one of three finalists for the NFL's Man of the Year award, based on his charitable work off the field coupled with his Pro Bowl season. The award is named after Bears great Walter Payton.

    Payton's family was impressed with what Tillman was able to accomplish.
     
    "Being in the city, living there we get to see his work firsthand," Brittany Payton said. "It really helps because you really get to see the work he puts in and makes you root for him more."

    "We're excited because it's my dad's legacy and it's being renewed again every single day," Jarrett Payton added.

    As a longtime Bear, Tillman is well-aware of Payton's legacy. He is humbled to be a finalist for the award.

    "To be mentioned in the same sentence? That's big enough right there itself, that's big enough to me. I've won in that case. I'm in the same sentence? I won, I've lived, it's good."

    Tillman is up against Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk and San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers. The winner will be announced on the NFL Honors show on NBC Saturday night.