Just win, baby: Tillman to play
BY RICK TELANDER firstname.lastname@example.org November 8, 2012 10:14PM
CHICAGO, IL- OCTOBER 22: Charles Tillman #33 of the Chicago Bears reacts after the Bears recovered a fumble against the Detroit Lions in the third quarter on October 22, 2012 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
Updated: December 10, 2012 6:32AM
What was the biggest day of your life?
The day you were born?
If you’re thinking, ‘‘No,’’ just stop and think a little more. Like if you weren’t born, would you even be thinking about this question?
OK, my head is spinning, too. No more metaphysics.
But philosophical debate is our lot when Bears cornerback Charles Tillman said earlier this week that he and his wife, Jackie (a key part of the Tillman family attack), were having a baby, the Tillman team’s fourth, and if it came Sunday, he would miss the Texans-Bears game to be there in the delivery room, seeing the blessed event through.
So the rest of us were left to ponder that eternal question: When is it OK for the potential defensive MVP of the league to miss a game for personal reasons?
This is not an easy thing. It can get people angry, offended, politically correct, nuts. And to his credit, Tillman ended the debate by tweeting (of course, it would be a tweet, the modern-day equivalent of speaking) that everybody could chill out because he would be there for the huge night game against the 7-1 Texans. Sorry for the incident.
There was rumored blather that the baby — a girl? Yes, a girl! — wasn’t due for another week, that it would be induced to avoid game- time conflict, that it would come out punching anything more oval than round.
This is how it goes, folks, in the era of infinite social communication.
Start a firestorm for no reason. Put it out. Have people wonder why there was a firestorm in the first place. Spend time analyzing the nonexistent fire, the cause of the storm, which was created for no reason, and now is gone. Ask yourself if you feel used.
I mean, why not tell us, the Chicago media, which is right in Tillman’s face, what’s up?
Tillman was there at Halas Hall on Wednesday afternoon, but he seemed reluctant to speak about the very issue he had brought up in the first place.
“Y’all are looking too much into that right now,’’ he said when asked about the birth issue. ‘‘Next question.’’
Could he tell us how the issue had been resolved?
“No. Next question, please.”
So if the baby comes early, can he make it by kickoff?
“Yeah, I’ll be there. Next question.”
There really weren’t any more because this is, after all, NFL football, not Lamaze class.
But the question didn’t feel resolved until Tillman took to Twitter on Thursday.
‘‘Baby is coming Monday,’’ Tillman tweeted to the East Coast ‘‘Mike and Mike’’ ESPN radio show Thursday morning, ‘‘don’t worry I’ll be there Sunday.’’
The Bears are 7-1, and they are a real candidate to make the Super Bowl and even win it. That’s what concerns us all. The defense is so good, so refined at disrupting the opponent’s sense of calm, that it almost is a second phase of offense. How else do you explain seven defensive touchdowns this year — eight, if you count Corey Wootton’s blocked punt returned for a touchdown. Which I do.
Tillman, himself, had enough fumbles caused and collected by the Bears — four — in last week’s win over the Titans to be considered for the Pro Bowl on that effort alone. But he is so much more than just the obvious stats.
He takes on the other team’s best, biggest receiver — in this case, the Texans’ Andre Johnson — and he works to shut that star down. He has done it all year, and as coach Lovie Smith says, ‘‘His play goes without me saying an awful lot about it. They have a special receiver down there. Charles may be close to him most of the night. You can do a lot of things when you have a big, physical corner like Charles.’’
Yes, he’s big and physical. And he has this ability to tackle and dislodge the ball that is uncanny.
Said Texans coach Gary Kubiak about Tillman, ‘‘We’ve been good at protecting [the ball], but they’re the best at getting it out. We pay attention to it all the time. We better pay special attention to it this week. I think they’ve gotten two turnovers at least in each game, so that’s unheard of.”
Yes, the Bears’ defense is kind of unheard of, with its ability to score and frighten a foe into chaos, something no opponent wants.
Thus, the Bears need Tillman. And it’s good the family man is having a baby. And it’s also good he’ll be at the game.
The big day, the child’s birthday, might be celebrated by a win. What could be a better way to enter this world?