One of the more overlooked aspects of this Chicago Bears team is how many potential future Hall of Famers reside on the defensive side of the ball. At this point, Brian Urlacher could be a lock to head to Canton, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Julius Peppers and/or Lance Briggs in there by the time it’s all said and done either.
However, there’s one guy that could deserve his own bust in the NFL Hall of Fame when he decides to call it quits, and he’s a player who hasn’t gotten nearly as much credit for the impact he’s had over the course of his long career: Charles Tillman.
Tillman looked like he was starting to show his age in the preseason, but has been an absolute star early on this year. He’s a Defensive Player of the Year candidate through five weeks. His performance in Week 5, which included an interception for a touchdown in his second straight game earned him NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors for this week.
At this point in his career, it’s not unreasonable to think that Tillman has a shot at reaching the Hall of Fame someday. The defensive back field isn’t exactly a crowded one, and Tillman has been one of the better ones of his era.
While he isn’t a surefire Hall of Fame player, like someone such as Charles Woodson might be, Tillman’s numbers are certainly making the case. He’s 31 years old, so there should be at least a few more years of him being the turnover machine that he has been in his first 10 seasons in the league.
In his career, Tillman has 32 interceptions. Perhaps the more impressive total are the 29 fumbles he’s forced, which rank just one outside of the top 20 all-time. Tillman’s penchant for forcing turnovers has been turning the tide of games for years. So have his eight touchdowns, which are the most in the history of the Bears, and among the best ever.
If he retired tomorrow, Tillman wouldn’t be Canton-bound. However, by the time it’s all said and done for him, if he continues to perform at a high level and have the impact he has had on the defensive side, there could absolutely be a place for him. While the focus for such an honor might fall on some of the other names on defense, don’t count Charles Tillman out just yet.