Charles Tillman of the Chicago Bears was named the 2013 Walter Payton Man of the Year. The award recognizes a player’s off-the-field community service as well as his playing excellence.
Tillman is the fifth Chicago Bears player to be honored with the award joining Payton (1977), Dave Duerson (1987), Mike Singletary (1990) and Jim Flanigan (2000).
Jarrett and Brittney Payton, the late Walter Payton’s children, will honor Tillman on-field tomorrow before kickoff of Super Bowl XLVIII.
“I'm grateful to be the recipient of such a prestigious award,” said Tillman. “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 has distinguished himself as one of the NFL’s top defensive backs during his outstanding 11-year career with the Chicago Bears. A two-time Pro Bowl selection, Tillman ranks third in Bears franchise history with 36 interceptions, and is the franchise leader in defensive return touchdowns, interception return touchdowns and interception return yards. Tillman is just as passionate and successful off the field as he is on game day, and his career has been characterized by a sincere and genuine interest in giving back to the community.
Tillman continues to have an impact on millions of people in the Chicago area through his Cornerstone Foundation and its many programs. Charles’ Locker provides pediatric hospital patients with access to tablets, laptops, gaming systems and other kinds of entertainment to help pass the time during their hospital stays and annually reaches more than 370,000 children. The Tiana Fund has distributed more than $1 million to 300 families who have been identified by local organizations as at-risk or in-need. The support is provided to families and individuals to strengthen their ability to care for themselves, enhance their stability and security, and improve their quality of life.
Tillman and his wife, Jackie, also contribute their time and resources to local, national and international organizations outside of the Cornerstone Foundation. The Tillmans have helped build a school in Cambodia, sponsored children through the Urban Promise program in Camden, New Jersey, and have purchased and donated over 700 tickets to Bears home games since 2008 through the Bears Home Team Hand-Off program. Tillman is also an avid supporter of our military, and has participated in a USO tour to Iraq, volunteered with the USO of Illinois on Thanksgiving to serve meals to local troops, and provided soldiers with tickets to games at Soldier Field during the 2013 season. He was the recipient of the 2012 Salute to Service Award presented by USAA. The award was created to acknowledge the exceptional efforts by members of the NFL community to honor and support U.S. service members and veterans.
Tillman joins an esteemed list of winners of the annual award, including 17 Pro Football Hall of Famers. Recent winners of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award include Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys (2012), Matt Birk, then of the Baltimore Ravens (2011), Madeiu Williams, then of the Minnesota Vikings (2010). (A complete list of previous winners is below).
All 32 team nominees for the award receive a $1,000 donation from NFL Foundation to the charity of their choice. The three Man of the Year finalists received an additional $5,000 donation in their name. The selection panel is comprised of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, Connie Payton, Pro Football Hall of Fame members Frank Giford and Anthony Munoz, 2012 winner Jason Witten, and Sports Illustrated football writer Peter King.
The winner of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award will receive the Gladiator statue, an original art creation by the noted sculptor, Daniel Schwartz. In addition, the player’s favorite charity will receive a $20,000 donation in his name.
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