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Imrem: Perfect time to appreciate 'Peanut'

Something good came out of Charles Tillman's season-ending triceps injury.

The Bears cornerback became the reminder that the public needed that the NFL does have some people/players that are positive forces in society.

This might be career's end for the man nicknamed “Peanut.” Not many teams bid on a 33-year-old whose injuries aborted his seasons the previous two years.

So if Tillman indeed is destined to be done playing, let's not let him go primarily in the “transactions” on the tiny-type page.

There is more to Tillman than two Pro Bowls, that he might be the Bears' best cornerback ever and that he is considered the NFL's all-time best at punching the ball loose from ball carriers.

Nobody should ignore that Tillman played 12 seasons without embarrassing himself, his team or his profession.

Tillman certainly never prompted sponsors to object to the NFL about players' conduct as Budweiser, Radisson, Nike and others reportedly did Tuesday.

The disgraced Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson brought the issue to the forefront, and the only way Tillman should be mentioned in the same sentence is to point out that he isn't them.

Tillman especially is not Peterson, who allegedly abused his 4-year-old son physically.

In 2008, one of Tillman's daughters, 3-month-old Tiana, was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, an enlargement of the heart.

Tillman cried first. Then he helped navigate Tiana toward and through a heart transplant. Then he began devoting time and energy to helping other kids endure their critical illnesses.

Good deeds can't be taken for granted anymore. Myriad professional athletes perform myriad charitable acts but tend to be overlooked as headlines blare about anti-social behavior.

Maybe you heard, over and over, that Rice punched his then-fiancee and that Peterson allegedly beat his son.

Though it's risky to assume anything about how an athlete conducts himself in private, Tillman never was tainted by scandal.

In a way, Tillman has been to Chicago football what Paul Konerko has been to Chicago baseball.

Each conducts himself with class, dignity and integrity. Now Konerko is playing his last month with the White Sox and Tillman might have played his last game with the Bears.

In another time, Tillman's career could end without much need for parting fanfare.

This is a different time, though. This is a time when NFL news is dominated by too many transgressions by too many transgressors instead of by so many great plays by so many great players.

Ray Rice is mentioned more than Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson more than Russell Wilson, Greg Hardy more than Calvin Johnson, Ray McDonald more than J.J. Watt …

Make no mistake: It's risky boasting about a player's admirable character. Too often, he turns out to be someone else in private than he is in public.

Until they were caught, Rice in Baltimore and Peterson in Minnesota were perceived as assets to their respective communities.

Still, if you're going to take a chance on anyone in the NFL being straight, Charles Tillman is as safe a gamble as possible.

All you heard this week after Sunday's injury was that Tillman is as good a person as he is an athlete. No evidence refutes that sentiment.

The NFL has people who conduct themselves the way Tillman has. We can find them if we bother to read past the scandals page to find them.

Bears coach Marc Trestman said Tuesday of Tillman's injury, “This is a real tough one because of the impact he has on our football team on and off the field.”

Not to mention the impact Tillman — the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2013 for his charity and volunteer work — has had in the community.

That needs to be emphasized before Charles “Peanut” Tillman fades from the league … whether that happens sooner or later.

mimrem@dailyherald.com