Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman may not be sure about whether or not he will be with the team next year, but on Saturday night he did grab some hardware that serves as a testament to the work that he has done both on and off the field during his tenure in the Windy City.
During the NFL’s awards ceremony, Tillman was honored as the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year winner for 2013. Thomas Davis of the Carolina Panthers and Jay Feely of the Arizona Cardinals were the other two nominees for the award.
"I'm grateful to be the recipient of such a prestigious award," Tillman said. "Walter Payton's legacy continues to be a beacon of service and giving, and I'm just trying to do my small part. I don't think any of the finalists do what they do to get recognition, but we do it because we are passionate about helping others."
Tillman will be honored on the field tomorrow before the kick-off of Super Bowl XLVIII between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos. Tillman will be joined in the ceremony by Jarrett and Britney Payton, Walter's two children.
The award, handed out since 1970, was named after the late Bears running back after his death in 1999. Payton himself won the award back in 1977, and is one of only five Bears players, Tillman included, to win the trophy. Linebacker Dave Duerson (1987), linebacker Mike Singletary (1990), and defensive lineman Jim Flanigan (2000) are the other three players to have won the trophy while members of the Bears organization.
“Tillman and his wife, Jackie, also contribute their time and resources to local, national, and international organizations outside of the Cornerstone Foundation. The Tillmans have helped build a school in Cambodia, sponsored children through the Urban Promise program in Camden, New Jersey, and have purchased and donated over 700 tickets to Bears home games since 2008 through the Bears Home Team Hand-Off program. Tillman is also an avid supporter of our military, and has participated in a USO tour to Iraq, volunteered with the USO of Illinois on Thanksgiving to serve meals to local troops, and provided soldiers with tickets to games at Soldier Field during the 2013 season.”
To be frank, that is a long list of accomplishments that are certainly worthy of praise, and although any of the three men nominated would have been a worthy recipient of the award, Tillman definitely had as strong a case as anyone to win. Given his statement last week that he would “retire as a Bear,” one would imagine that he will remain active in the Windy City doing charity work regardless of which uniform he dons next season.