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Charles Tillman is a Bear to the bone

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Updated: July 18, 2013 10:23AM



Cornerback Charles Tillman’s 10-year career with the Bears is littered with highlights. There’s his franchise-record nine defensive touchdowns, all those fumbles he’s forced and all those stories about him limiting receivers such as the Detroit Lions’ Calvin Johnson.

He might just be the Bears’ best cornerback of all time.

And Tillman would like to retire a Bear, whenever that comes.

“For sure, I would love to retire a Bear,” Tillman said Wednesday as part of a media tour for Allstate’s “Give It Up For Good” program. “Whether I go to another team for a year or two, I would sign that one-day contract and retire a Bear. But, yeah, my goal or my hope would be that I would retire a Bear and just play for one team.”

Tillman is one of numerous Bears players looking at playing out the 2013 season in a contract year. It’s an impressive list of key players, including fellow cornerback Tim Jennings, quarterback Jay Cutler, defensive tackle Henry Melton, defensive end Corey Wootton, safety Major Wright, center Roberto Garza and kicker Robbie Gould.

It’s a unique situation having so many starters and stars in contract years, but Tillman doesn’t believe it provides motivation.

“I don’t think there’s any extra incentive to play harder,” said Tillman, who will make $8 million in 2013, the final year of a seven-year contract. “If you play hard and you perform well, naturally, the mind-set is that the team will come and give you what you’re worth. But my mind-set is just to play good. And you know what? If I play good, the situation will take care of itself.”

Tillman, 32, is entering his 11th season, but he’s coming off one of his best. In 2012, Tillman had three interceptions, forced 10 fumbles, broke up 15 passes and scored three touchdowns. He went to the Pro Bowl for the second time and was named first-team All-Pro. In his ­career, Tillman has 33 interceptions and 37 forced fumbles.

“I’m not really worried about what the team is going to do with me,” Tillman said. “It is a business. They have to make money. They have to make tough decisions. I know I’m not going to play forever. It’s just part of the game, as far as the business.”

With longtime linebacker Brian Urlacher retired, it’s fair to say that Tillman, linebacker Lance Briggs and defensive end Julius Peppers will be looked to more when it comes to leadership. But Tillman always has been a leader for the Bears, and he doesn’t expect his role to change too much, even with Urlacher out of the picture.

“I don’t think I have to say anything more or do anything differently,” Tillman said. “We’ve always had leaders on this team. Our roles as senior leaders, they’ll stay the same.

“Brian got more of the attention because he was the face of the team. He was a great leader. He took a lot of the brunt for us.

“He took a lot of the media, the interviews. He did that for us because he knew no one else wanted to do it. He put it on his shoulders and did a great job.

“[But] the leadership role, it doesn’t really change for anyone. We’ve all been leaders. We know what to do. We’re all a team in our locker room. Essentially, nothing’s really changed.”



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