So you wrote a children’s book, “The Middle School Rules of Charles Tillman.” Tell us more about it and what inspired you to write it.
CT: Kids look up to athletes. You look at kids and they wear the jerseys, they imitate them, they try to be that athlete, and when athletes try to tell their story, majority of the time I feel like it’s geared towards adults. We wanted to kind of do something slightly different from that, being creative and thinking outside the box. Why not write about yourself as a child, as a kid, and gear it towards kids? I want to teach kids that I was once like you at some point in time. I made mistakes. I wasn’t a perfect kid. I wasn’t Charles Tillman, the football player — I was Charles Tillman, the scrawny, bony, runny nose kid, and I just talked about all the dumb stuff I did as a child and the lessons I learned from my parents, teachers, coaches, and other family members. I want kids to know that bully, or that crazy thing your friends wanna do but you know you’re gonna get in trouble, I was the kid that did all that stuff. I’m trying to let kids know that they’re not alone.
Was writing always a hobby for you? Did you see yourself writing a book?
CT: No, it just kind of came up. I partnered with Sean Jensen, a good friend of mine. He helped me write the book, he co-wrote it and it was a fun process. My ten-year-old got an opportunity to learn about me as a child and she read the book was like, “Wow, dad. I didn’t know this happened when you were a kid. Wow, you were gonna get in a fight and Uncle Doug stepped in and helped you out.”
There’s a whole slew of lessons that I talked about from divorce to racial profiling. I got profiled when I was a kid to my first funeral. I got an uncle that was killed in a drive by. I talk about bunch of things that kids in the hood can relate to but silver spoon, middle-class kids can relate to, as well. I think adults can get something out of it, as well.
You won the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in 2014, which is an amazing accomplishment. Tell us about that.
CT: You said it. At this point in my life, it was one of my greatest accomplishments. Radio City Music Hall, in New York City, and the commissioner announces my name. I’m crying, there’s a standing ovation. I was so overwhelmed with the presence that was there and it was too much for me. I’m not a big spotlight guy. I lost it. I was humbled and that was my moment to tell people why I do what I do and I was very honored in that moment because I think when we all go through something bad, there’s two ways of dealing with it: getting over it and dealing with it in a positive way, or not getting over it and just shutting down and closing people out. My wife and I chose to deal with it in a positive way. I was sad that my daughter had to get a transplant and someone had to die, but I think we’ve been able to make the best of that situation and help out more families and get the word out about organ donation. Kids need organs too. To be in New York and get that point across, for people to hear my story, and know that I’m trying to get money back to these families and help them out, that was perfect. I was thankful for the opportunity.
You’re definitely considered one of the best corners in the game. You’ve been in the league for about 13 years now. How much would you say you’ve changed as a player and as a person?
CT: I think I’ve changed a lot as a player because I keep learning new things. My motto was either greener and growing or you rot, and I’m green all day long. I always learn something new to help my game, to elevate my game. I think good players want to get coached. I want to be told what I did wrong. Coach me up. I’m not satisfied until I have perfection and I’m constantly trying to get better at what I do.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten more involved with the community. Whether I’m playing in Chicago or Charlotte, I’ve been more involved in the community that I’m living in.
Tell us about your Big Game Raffle that ends tomorrow. Where can fans enter?
CT: It’s netraffle.org or you can go on my social media sites. Twitter I’m @peanuttillman and Instagram is @peanuttillman. I’m giving away two tickets to Super Bowl 50. I’m giving away two tickets for airfare, you get an autographed jersey, and hotel accommodations for two nights.
You can get five raffle tickets for about ten bucks. It’s very cost effective so anybody and everybody can play. It’s gonna be a good day. I’m calling the winner tomorrow. They have one more day to sign up to try to win the trip of a lifetime.
Sign up for Charles’ raffle here.