Over the course of his career, Charles Tillman put up some incredible statistics for the Chicago Bears. To start to appreciate just how impactful his career was for the Bears, we start our appreciation series with a simple look at some of the extraordinary numbers he accumulated.
156 Games played in a Bears Uniform
Tillman’s 156 games in a Bears uniform ranks in the top 25 players in modern history and the most for a cornerback.
140 Passes Defensed
The NFL started recognizing this stat starting in 1999 and Tillman holds the franchise record, unsurprisingly. He finished his career tied for 15th in league history.
44 Forced Fumbles
This stat also started in 1999 and Tillman has the most in franchise history. He finished his career tied for 6th place in NFL history and has the most forced fumbles of any defensive back. The company he keeps in the top ten are all pass rushers, with Robert Mathis and Julius Peppers above and Bruce Smith and Derrick Thomas below him. The active player closest to Tillman is Robert Quinn with 28. The closest active defensive back is Malcolm Jenkins with 19. In other words, no one is catching him anytime soon.
36 Bears Interceptions
Ranks third in team history behind Gary Fencik (38) and Richie Petitbon (37). Tillman’s two interceptions for the Panthers tie him with Fencik in overall career interceptions. The closest active Bears player to Tillman in the interceptions record book is Eddie Jackson with 10. The recently departed Kyle Fuller finished his Bears career with 19.
24 Tackles for Loss
The most tackles for loss in franchise history amongst defensive backs, Tillman was not afraid to blow up a play in the backfield.
8 Interception Return TDs
Franchise record holder and tied for 8th in league history. Despite not having as many interceptions as some of the players above him on the all-time list, Tillman took advantage of the opportunities he had with the ball in his hands.
2 Pro Bowls
Simply put, it’s a travesty he didn’t have more. The narrative about Tillman’s impact didn’t get enough recognition early on and that makes him something of a late bloomer. Still, he was the first pure Bears corner to make multiple Pro Bowl appearances, a mark that has since been tied by Kyle Fuller.
1 First-Team All-Pro
See above. The All-Pro season was an all-time great year and one can only imagine how different the narrative would be if that season came early in his career. It would have established him as a known quantity and given permission for people to vote him onto post seasons honors regularly.
1 Man of the Year Award
The NFL says this is their highest honor. It’s named after the GOAT, Walter Payton. Only two Bears have won it since Payton did during his playing career. Jim Flanigan was the first in 1999, the season that Payton passed away. Tillman was the second with his work at the Cornerstone Foundation.
What is the most impressive number associated with Tillman’s career? Let me know in the comments or find me on Twitter @gridironborn.