Charles Tillman is the epitome of greatness. Not only is he having an MVP season, playing some of the best football of his career, he is also setting a fine example of what it means to be a family man.
There were stories flying all over the Internet that the Chicago Bears cornerback might miss this Sunday's game against the Houston Texans. The reason? His wife is due to deliver the latest addition to the Tillman family. As it turns out, she is now expected to give birth on Monday, meaning Tillman will be available to play this week.
He recently said:
"At the end of the day, (family is) all you have. This game is important to me, but after what we went through with my middle child (Tiana), to me football will always be second or third in my life. That was a great lesson learned to teach me that when I'm done playing football my family will still always be there for me."
And that speaks volumes to me. As a father of two young children myself, I know how important family is, and I know where how far down the list my actual day job is, compared to my work with my wife and children.
I'd go one step further and surmise that there are countless other reasons that players should be able to miss games. Granted, it wasn't a regular season situation, but we saw Brian Urlacher miss some of training camp, due to 'personal reasons' that clearly turned out to be him nursing his wounds after being ditched by Jenny McCarthy.
Obviously, if an NFL player suffers a death in the family, they should be afforded the time to mourn their loss and make suitable funeral arrangements. If that means missing games, so be it. I don't care if it's the starting quarterback and you're in the Super Bowl; family comes first.
When talking about football over here in the UK, legendary Liverpool FC manager Bill Shankly once said:
"Football's not a matter of life and death....it's more important than that"
And unfortunately, that seemed to resonate with some people when Tillman's situation recently came to light. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk apparently is the Jeremy Clarkson of football journalists, and makes a living out of having opinions for money. He wrote a piece stating:
"It's a thorny issue. My position was and is that the players have made a lifestyle choice that entails being available 16 days per year, no matter what. If they choose not to plan their nine-month family expansion activities to coincide with the eight months per year when their work activities don't entail playing games that count, why should their teams suffer the consequences?"
Now, to be fair to Florio, he recently reconsidered his ridiculous remarks, and basically admitted what an imbecile he had been in making such a suggestion. You can read his tail between the legs apology HERE.
Playing football in the NFL is a job just like any other. We are constantly reminded that the league is a business, with players holding out for copious amounts of money, gently telling us it's nothing personal; I just gotta get paid. But that borders on greed a lot of the time, and Tillman wanting to be at the birth of his child is not greedy in the slightest.
He has his priorities in order, and is an example to all expectant fathers in the NFL and in the world, dammit.
I have come up with a few situations when it is defintiely acceptable for a player to miss a game. Let me know which ones you agree or disagree with:
- When you are expecting a child and want to be present for the birth.
- If a relative dies, depending on how much you liked them. If it's your Auntie that always gave you lame Christmas presents, feel free to give the funeral a miss.
- Season premier or pivotal episode of Big Bang Theory, American Horror Story, New Girl, Person Of Interest, Don't Trust The B***h in Apt.23 (it's actually quite well written), Mike & Molly (the wife makes me watch it), Modern Family (although it is getting a little stale), and any other awesome TV show that you feel must take precedent over an NFL football game.
- Setting your fantasy lineup. Perfectly fine if you are at home waiting for a game time decision on Darren McFadden, but then wondering why you drafted him in the first place, and beginning to hate your life and what it has become.
- If you're Jay Cutler and have been offered the chance of being the host of a brand new radio show. it's fine to put stardom and fame above winning football games. Oh wait, he does that already
- If you are just having one of those days where you just can't be bothered to go to work. We all have days like that. Why should NFL players be any different? You just want to stay at home and sit on the Internet all day and see where it takes you. Or is that just me?
The Bears are lucky to have Charles Tillman on the roster. Not only is he having one of the best seasons of his life, he is also living the value, #familybeforefootball. And for that alone, he should be commended.