Per Chicago Tribune, Charles Tillman’s playing days are over. On Monday, the 35-year-old corner back used a humorous YouTube video to reveal his decision to step away, closing the back cover on an impressive 13-year career.
On Friday, Tillman is expected to re-sign with the Bears, a ceremonial move that will allow him to formally retire as a member of the organization that drafted him in 2003.
“I want to say thank you,” Tillman proclaimed during an interview on WSCR-AM 670 on Wednesday night. “I really mean that.”
Tillman’s return to Halas Hall is well-deserved. Drafted in the second round out of Louisiana-Lafayette, he quickly developed into a difference-making starter and left the team in April 2015 as arguably the best corner back in team history. Tillman made 152 starts over 12 seasons with the Bears and recorded 36 interceptions, 42 forced fumbles and nine touchdowns.
Tillman spent his final season with the Panthers, making 12 starts and helping them win the NFC South. He suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during the regular-season finale and did not play during the Panthers’ postseason run to the Super Bowl.
Tillman also suffered season-ending injuries during his final two seasons with the Bears, tearing his right triceps in both 2013 and 2014. But his mark on Bears history is indelible. For nine seasons, he was a dynamic playmaker in Lovie Smith’s defense, one of the key cogs in the unit that propelled the Bears to Super Bowl XLI in 2006. His best season came in 2012, a Pro Bowl campaign that saw him record three interceptions, 10 forced fumbles and three touchdowns.
When Tillman signed with the Panthers last year, Bears Chairman George McCaskey made sure his departure was handled with grace and respect.
“We are deeply appreciative of how he has represented our team,” McCaskey said in a statement. “When he decides his time on the field has concluded, we look forward to welcoming him back to the Bears family.”
On Friday, that reunion should become official.