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posted: 10/26/2012 5:30 AM

Plenty of reasons to root for Tillman

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  • Tillman_Charles_mg0607 Charles "Peanut" Tillman, Cornerback, 2007-2008 Chicago Bears football.

      Tillman_Charles_mg0607 Charles "Peanut" Tillman, Cornerback, 2007-2008 Chicago Bears football.

  • Things will be looking up for Charles Tillman's charitable foundation if fantasy football fans make contributions.

      Things will be looking up for Charles Tillman's charitable foundation if fantasy football fans make contributions.
    Associated Press

 
 

In the 14 years I've been writing this column, I almost always dedicate this space to skill position players.

This week, however, you'll have to forgive me as I take a detour to lavish praise upon a player who embodies what it means to be a football player.

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Bears cornerback Charles Tillman has impressed me since his arrival in the league in 2003. Back then it was mainly because of his witty comments during interviews -- a rare treat amidst a locker room full of mind-numbing, cliché soundbites.

That side of Tillman didn't last long -- and it's possible he was encouraged to tone down things to fall more in line with how Lovie Smith runs his team.

But I've always rooted for Tillman. Some of it has to do with how he was with the media in 2003. Some of it has to do with the fact that he took 10 minutes out of a busy Super Bowl week to grant an interview to a reporter -- me -- that was barely ever in the Bears locker room. So many athletes blow off that reporter, but Tillman gave me the time and allowed me to produce a nice feature on him for our readers.

Some of it has to do with the way Tillman plays on the field. In all my years of watching football, I've never seen a cornerback like Tillman. The Jets' Darrelle Revis, the Eagles' Nnamdi Asomugha, Atlanta's Asante Samuel, Denver's Champ Bailey and maybe a half dozen others all receive high praise for being the best corners in the NFL.

I understand Tillman doesn't have the pure cover skills of the truly elite corners, but you can't tell me that those guys are any more important to their defenses than Tillman, a veritable turnover-forcing machine. Of the four veteran CBs listed above, NONE OF THEM has forced double-digit fumbles over their career.

Tillman has forced 30. THIRTY! He also has 8 defensive touchdowns, a team record he set in Week 5 of this season.

And it's not like he can't cover. That fact was there for all to see as Tillman shut down Calvin Johnson on Monday Night Football and turned in perhaps the play of the night when he whacked the ball out of Megatron's hands in the end zone one play before a key turnover.

Now, those are all fantastic reasons to root for the 10-year vet, but perhaps the biggest reason I root for Tillman has to do with the touching story of his daughter Tiana, who was born with a rare heart disorder.

Many of you know the details -- that Tiana was saved when a mother in Minnesota made the hard-to-imagine decision to allow the heart in her dying baby boy to save the life of another child.

"It was one of those bittersweet moments," Tillman said on the Oprah Winfrey Show. "You're happy … but on the flip side, you're sad because in our darkest hour, we're happy all of a sudden. But at the same time you know a parent has just lost their child. It was the greatest day of my life, but at the same time one of the worst."

We here in the fantasy football world sometimes get caught up in stuff that really doesn't mean a whole lot -- like fantasy football. A few years ago I suggested we give 10 percent of our winnings to a player on your team that helped you win some prize money.

I have a sneaky suspicion many of you will greatly benefit from owning the Bears defense, and what better way to say "Thank You" than to contribute to Tillman's Cornerstone Foundation, which provides opportunities and resources to children and families in need.

Just go to charlestillman.org to donate.

When the season's over, I'll post a reminder and -- although I don't own the Bears D in any league -- will get the ball rolling by ponying up 10 percent of any winnings.

My teams:

It's going from bad to worse. Lost my auction-league game 59-53 to fall to 2-5. Only saving grace here is that we allow the fourth team into the playoffs based on total points, and I'm just 4 points out of a playoff spot. In the regular league, I got drilled 117-74, PLUS lost Maurice Jones-Drew for who knows how long. That team is 3-4 and reeling.

Good bets

•Eagles QB Michael Vick vs. Atlanta. The Falcons' pass defense is actually very good, but Vick should get loose for 50-60 rushing yards against a unit allowing 143.8 yards on the ground.

•Browns QB Brandon Weeden and WR Josh Gordon vs. San Diego. I like Weeden here a lot more than Gordon (7 catches, 240 yards last three). Since the opener, Weeden has averaged 277.5 passing yards and 1.5 TDs.

•Rams WR Brandon Gibson vs. New England in London. Gibson's a decent bye-week fill-in against a defense that's allowed 16 scores through the air.

•Broncos TE Jacob Tamme vs. New Orleans. Total flier here. Tamme has just 202 receiving yards, but it seems anybody can rack points up against the Saints.

•Steelers WR Antonio Brown vs. Washington. The only thing missing from Brown's resume is more trips into the end zone. Figure he books a one-way flight this week as the Redskins have punched 16 passing TD tickets already.

•Raiders RB Darren McFadden at Kansas City. On the fast track to Bust of the Year status, McFadden desperately needs a big game. He failed against the miserable Jaguars, so he gets one more shot before we completely give up on the total waste of skin.

•Dolphins RB Reggie Bush at New York Jets. Hopefully the bye week helped Bush (knee) heal up a bit. In Week 3 against the Jets, Bush averaged 6.1 yards per carry. Let's just hope the Dolphins hand it to him more than 10 times.

•Bears K Robbie Gould vs. Carolina. The Panthers allow the most fantasy points to opposing kickers.

Bad bets

•Panthers QB Cam Newton at Bears. Newton certainly has fond memories from his last trip to Soldier Field when he threw for 374 yards and racked up 35 fantasy points in standard leagues. It will be a different story in 2012, however. Watch for about 200 passing yards, 33 rushing and 1 TD as the Bears' defense continues to dominate.

•Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald vs. San Francisco. In case you missed my column from last week, TRADE FITZ ASAP!

•Niners WR Michael Crabtree at Arizona. With San Fran going up against a unit that's allowed just 6 passing TDs, you can do a lot better than Crabtree as a one-week replacement.

•Lions QB Matthew Stafford vs. Seattle. Teams are taking away Calvin Johnson and making Stafford throw to a bevy of Bears-like receivers.

•Jets RB Shonn Greene vs. Miami. Yes, Greene scored last week. Yes, he's miraculously 11th among RBs in fantasy points. But (taking out Week 6's aberration) you're playing with fire to rely on a guy who is averaging 45 rushing yards a game.

•Cardinals RB LaRod Stephens-Howling vs. San Francisco. Don't get cute here. The Cardinals rode the hot hand last week, which was Stephens-Howling, but thinking he'll do more than get you 5 points this week is pure folly.

•Falcons RB Michael Turner at Philadelphia. The Eagles have allowed just 2 rushing scores thus far.

•Eagles K Alex Henery vs. Atlanta. No team has allowed fewer points per game -- a scant 4.5 -- to kickers than the Falcons.

jdietz@dailyherald.com

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