Bears CB Tillman named Payton Man of the Year
By Mark Potash Staff Reporter February 1, 2014 8:11PM
Charles Tillman is the fifth Bears player to win the Man of the Year Award, following Jim Flanigan (2000), Mike Singletary (1990), Dave Duerson (1987) and the great Walter Payton (1977). | AP
Updated: March 3, 2014 5:57PM
NEW YORK — Charles Tillman brought the crowd to its feet Saturday night, but it wasn’t an interception, a touchdown, or a ‘‘Peanut Punch’’ that did it.
The Bears cornerback earned a well-deserved and emotional standing ovation for winning the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award at the NFL Honors show at Radio City Music Hall.
The video presentation introduced by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in announcing Tillman of the winner of the award — which highlighted Tillman’s dedication to helping children with special needs after his infant daughter Tiana received a heart transplant clearly — touched the audience. And Tillman was equally emotional in accepting the award.
‘‘As a Chicago Bear, this honor of course has great meaning to me and it’s pretty sweet bringing Walter back home,’’ Tillman said after composing himself following the lengthy ovation.
‘‘Please know how humble and honored I am to be receiving this award. I’m just the face of our foundation and we have so many unsung heroes. I want to thank our board members ... I believe we all have a responsibilitiy to lend a helping hand in the service of others in time of need. Because of a donor my daughter Tiana is alive and she’s healthy and she’s thriving. And I’ve got the strength and joy from knowing that.
‘‘Finally, I dedicate this award to the lives of the five children that I got to know who passed, and they’ll be with us in spirit forever: This is for you.’’
Tillman and others were in tears at the conclusion of his speech and Tillman acknowledged the emotion of the moment when he was asked where this accomplishment ranked in his professional career.
“One of the greatest. It’s No.1,’’ Tillman said. ‘‘I couldn’t even talk because I got emotional. I could talk about going to the Super Bowls and creating turnovers, forcing fumbles and getting picks and scoring touchdowns, pick-sixes. But I’ve never been so nervous in my life to get on stage and talk in front of so many people with so much passion about what I do with my daughter, my family and the families of those five children.
‘‘It really hits home when you really think about it, because I got to know these five individuals who are no longer with us. Like I said earlier, I love doing what I do, but the saddest part about having our foundation is not everyone makes it. The relationships you made with these families, sometimes a kid will pass and it hurts. It really does.’’
Walter Payton’s widow, Connie, was in the audience and their children, Jarrett and Brittney were on the stage when Tillman accepted the award.
‘‘I’m grateful to be the recipient of such a prestigious award,’’ Tillman said. ‘‘Walter Payton’s legacy continues to be a beacon of service and giving, and I’m just trying to do my small part. I don’t think any of the finalists do what they do to get recognition. But we do it because we are passionate about helping others.’’
Tillman’s ‘‘Cornerstone Foundation’’ is dedicated to providing opportunities and resources to children and their families in need. Since 2005, Tillman’s foundation has raised more than $1 million to help Chicago-area children.
Tillman, who will turn 33 on Feb. 23, completed his 11th season with the Bears. He is a two-time Pro Bowl cornerback whose 42 forced fumbles since 2003 are the second-most in the NFL in that span.
Tillman is the fifth Bears player to win the Man of the Year Award, following Jim Flanigan (2000), Mike Singletary (1990), Dave Duerson (1987) and the great Walter Payton (1977).
The 2014 Hall of Fame class was presented, with seven new members to be inducted in Canton this year. The Raiders’ Ray Guy became the first punter selected for the Hall of Fame. Also selected were Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks, Giants defensive end Michael Strahan, Bills wide receiver Andre Reed, Seahawks offensive tackle Walter Jones, Cardinals cornerback Aeneas Williams and Eagles defensive end Claude Humphrey.
Peyton Manning won his fifth Most Valuable Player Award, with Broncos owner John Elway accepting the honor on Manning’s behalf. Other winners included:
Former Bears linebacker and defensive coordinator Ron Rivera (Coach of the Year).
Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechley (Defensive Player of the Year).
Packers running back Eddie Lacy (Offensive Rookie of the Year)
Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson (Defensive Rookie of the Year)
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (Comeback Player of the Year)
Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles (Fantasy Player of the Year.