Positive Sports Figures: Charles Tillman Gets it Right by Choosing Family First

Professional sports often gets tied up in negative stories where many outsiders find themselves wondering why professional athletes are propped up and paraded out into the spotlight for kids to idolize. These sports figures seem to think that they’re larger than life; too important and too big to follow the rules of us normal people. And this attitude is reinforced by some of the fans who are willing to overlook this pathetic behavior in the hopes that their team will win more games.

The Penn State scandal is the perfect example of how sports have been over-prioritized for a great deal of people. The leaders at Penn State overlooked child rape in the hopes that Penn State football could continue to be successful. To these people, the rape and suffering of children was an ends justify the means type of situation. Penn State football was more important than the well-being of children. Even now, many Penn State football fans believe that Penn State shouldn’t have to suffer any penalties its actions. These fans need to take their heads out of the sand and reprioritize their lives.

Charles Tillman of the Chicago Bears has given me hope that there are still good guys in sports.  For those who don’t know this gentleman, he plays cornerback for the Chicago Bears. Many experts believe the Chicago Bears have a Super Bowl caliber defense, and Tillman is a key piece of that defense. Plus, Tillman is considered a leader amongst the candidates for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award.

This coming Sunday the Chicago Bears will take its 7-1 record and put it up against the Houston Texans’ 7-1 record.  To raise the stakes a bit more, the Houston Texans’ J. J. Watt is considered Tillman’s biggest competition for this year’s Defensive Player of the Year Award. The importance of this game from an NFL standpoint is huge, but from a life perspective, Tillman has it figured out.

Tillman’s wife is pregnant and she is due any day now. It raises a question that many professional athletes face throughout their careers—do they miss the game and attend the birth of their child? Or do they play the game?

When he was asked if he will skip the game, Tillman stated, “I’m having another girl. Monday, for sure, but if she comes Sunday, I think I’m going to have to be at the hospital Sunday.” He went on to talk about the importance of his family. He already has three children, the last of which was born with a form of cardiomyopathy. Tillman struggled through the birth of his last daughter and learned the importance of family. He said that going through that trial helped him realize that his family will always be there for him and that football is just a game. His family will be with him long after football, and, therefore, family comes first.

The Bears head coach, Lovie Smith, has preached a “family first” attitude with his players and has encouraged Tillman to miss the game if his wife is in labor during the game. Hopefully Tillman follows his coach’s advice and skips the game if it comes down to it.

After having been at the births of my daughters, I can’t imagine anything in this world more important than being in that hospital room as they were introduced into the world. The joy of becoming a father to a new child is indescribable and insurmountable. The feeling I had when Addie was born has only been matched by the feeling that I got when Vivi was born. As I touched Vivi for the first time, I couldn’t help but look at her and realize that no matter how difficult parenting can be, none of those difficulties can take away from the joy of that moment.

Experiencing the birth of a child is one of the best moments of most parents’ lives.  Winning a football game will just be one moment that might be forgotten within a day or two.

Photo Credit: Flickr

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