I sat with Noah in Nashville and watched as a man who changed the game was delivering his signature performance. Charles “Peanut” Tillman – having taken the act of dislodging the football from opponents to near artistic levels – forced four fumbles with his patented Peanut Punch.
Postgame on Da Site:
“I don’t think it’s difficult,” Tillman said after the Bears extended their winning streak to six. “It’s always on my mind. I’m very conscious of it. I speak it, I believe it, I practice it, and it happens.”
Charles Tillman never received the credit he deserved. Never. Swept up in the misnomers of “system guy” and “cover-2 corner”, Peanut found himself struggling for accolades even while dominating the league’s best receivers. They said Lovie Smith “preached turnovers”, a not-so-subtle insinuation that Tillman was more the finest pupil of a distinguished instructor than master of a skill nobody else in the league seemed to possess at even 1/100 of his level.
But it was Tillman who made Lovie. And in doing so made a mark on the cornerback position that will be remembered in Bears history with the likes of George, Butkus, the 46, Buddy Ryan and Urlacher.
Tillman wasn’t just one of the best Bears ever. He was my favorite. And I got into this gig because I love the Bears not because I’m interested in them. I still care about this team. Perhaps too much at times. For that, I can place a lot of the blame at Peanut’s feet.
There will be time to further extol the virtues of Peanut on and off the field. There will be months and months spent arguing his place in Canton. There will even be moments in late October / early November when sentimental bloggin types (cough) will call for the Bears to fill a hole at corner by reaching out to the old codger wearing #33.
But those times aren’t now.
Now I simply say thank you. Thank you, Peanut. Because on one beautiful Sunday afternoon in Nashville I got to see the best at his best. What wasnt difficult to Tillman is the lithograph I hang on the wall of my memory.
And I’ve got that forever.
To see Tillman’s retirement video, CLICK HERE.
To see Tillman shut down Randy Moss, CLICK HERE.
To see Tillman receive his Man of the Year award with a lovely speech, CLICK HERE.
Another coin flip game, another coin flip loss. No reason to dissect every element so here are a few thoughts from inside the ballpark you might find interesting.
There is room for sentimentality in sports.
Despite football fans now being overly obsessed with salary cap structures, guessing which college kids will be solid professionals and PFF’s oft-unfounded system of grading, there is still room for an old fashioned fan to hold old fashioned beliefs. This old fashioned fan sure does.
Charles Tillman should have never worn another jersey in the NFL.
He is my favorite modern Chicago Bear and one of my favorite Bears to ever suit up. This speech, like so many of Tillman’s actions, personifies what can be good about the National Football League and the NFL player.
I remember sitting in that beautiful stadium they’ve got down there in Nashville. Right off the water. Lower Broadway’s honky tonks audible from my seat. I remember seeing Matt Hasselbeck throw passes to receivers and expect those receivers to hold onto the ball. The silly man actually believed his receivers had the option! He should have known better. Charles “Peanut” Tillman did not force one or two fumbles that afternoon. He forced four, cementing his legacy as the greatest forcer of fumbles the NFL has ever seen. And in my mind, on that warm November day in Tennessee, Tillman cemented his place in Canton.
Currently working on a longer form piece that I am hoping to have on the site by the end of this week. In the meantime, enjoy some Peanut video.