Athlete Profile : Charles Tillman

By Kyle Rich

Age: 31

College/Team: Chicago Bears

Charles “Peanut” Tillman has been a crucial piece of the Chicago Bears’ record-breaking, history-making defense this year. Not only has Tillman racked up 37 tackles at the cornerback position in the first 10 weeks of the season, but he is a turnover machine who forces fumble after fumble and puts points on the board by running interceptions for touchdowns.

Tillman recently set a career-high record of four forced fumbles with his patented “Peanut Punch” maneuver, which makes the ball magically disappear from the offense’s hands. He demonstrated this during the Nov. 4 game against the Tennessee Titans, that the Bears won, 51-20.

With only nine games played so far this season and seven regular season games remaining on the schedule, Tillman is already garnering nominations from his teammates for the Defensive Player of the Year.

The Bears aren’t the only ones who think Tillman’s worthy of the title. In a Nov. 5 interview during Monday Night Football, President Barack Obama told ESPN’S Chris Berman that “Tillman may be defensive player of the year the way he’s playing.”

The Chronicle got to chat with Tillman about the President’s comment, being an army brat and life on and off the

football field.

The Chronicle: How did you get your nickname?

Charles Tillman: I got the nickname when I was a day or two old. My momma gave me the nickname because I was a small baby, and that’s kind of how it

came about.

How does it feel to be recognized by the president on national TV?

It feels pretty cool. I didn’t actually see it, but I got a bunch of text messages, and I wished him lots of luck on [Election Day].

What is one of your techniques for forcing turnovers?

Punch the ball and not the man.

How does it feel when you knock the ball loose and you see it recovered by

the defense?

I feel like we’re gonna score because we have [quarterback] Jay Cutler and [wide receiver] Brandon Marshall. I’m giving a chance for our offense to get on the field, so that’s what I’m excited about.

Where did you grow up, and did you have a favorite team?

I grew up all over because my dad was in the military. I didn’t have a favorite particular team that

I watched.

Did you have a specific player you idolized as a kid?

I was a big  [former Detroit Lions running back] Barry Sanders fan.

Which NFL team’s offense do you find most difficult to

play against?

Lately, Green Bay, because we haven’t been able to beat them.

What days do you get time off, and what do you like to do

that day?

Mondays. [I like to] relax. I hang out with my kids, just be with the family. To me, that’s relaxing.

So does that mean you get to watch Monday Night Football?

No. There’s no football in my house. No football. That’s why I didn’t see [President Obama’s comments], because I wasn’t

watching [MNF].