Bears Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Tillman is a Defensive Player of the Year candidate, leading the league with seven forced fumbles.
But as the Bears prepare for a key game against the 7-1 Houston Texans, Tillman finds himself -- against his will -- at the center of a debate. Tillman told The Score Tuesday night that he would miss Sunday's game at Soldier Field if his wife goes into labor with their fourth child.
He directly dodged those questions after practice Wednesday. But Tillman wrote on his Twitter account Thursday morning his priorities.
"God, family, football," Tillman said in a tweet. "Baby is coming Monday. Don't worry, I'll be there Sunday."
It's remarkable that there are those who would question a father wanting to be at the birth of his child. But it's even more remarkable that there would be any question about Tillman, who is fortunate to have three children with a fourth on the way. His daughter Tiana required a heart transplant, and her experience inspired him and his wife Jackie to start the Cornerstone Foundation. That foundation has been so successful, Tillman last year was a finalist for the prestigious Walter Payton Man of the Year award.
Here is a link to that story.
As for the Bears, I can assure you they have no issues with Tillman potentially missing this game. This is a family-run franchise, and coach Lovie Smith has repeatedly stated and reinforced that approach.
Last year, after Brian Urlacher's mother Lavoyda passed, Smith said his star linebacker would take whatever time he needed. Teammates flew down, as a sign of respect and support, to attend the funeral, and Urlacher didn't miss a game.