Charles Tillman has a legacy that reached far distances in football. Before him, cornerbacks were focused on coverage and grabbing interceptions. It wasn’t until he implemented the now-famous “Peanut Punch” that players started to realize forcing fumbles was an equally valuable ability one could add to his arsenal. Kyler Gordon first felt the presence of Tillman in college at Washington, where coaches began showing everybody the punch technique.
The Bears rookie became enamored with how the two-time Pro Bowler played the game and worked on modeling his own style in the same way. There were signs of progress too. Gordon forced two fumbles over his final 15 games of college. So it must’ve been quite an experience when Chicago drafted him last weekend. He couldn’t have imagined he’d get a chance to meet Tillman in the flesh during his first official practice with the team.
Gordon described the experience to Bears media.
Tillman was at Halas Hall at the behest of head coach Matt Eberflus who wanted the legend to speak with the young players. He explained that the hard work to reach the NFL didn’t compare to the hard work it would take to stay there. They’d learned only how to play their own positions until now. If Kyler Gordon and others wanted to be great, they would need to understand what every other position must do as well. Once a player knows what everybody is supposed to do, it will take his game to a higher level.
He also left them with some important parting words. If you work hard and play hard, Chicago is the greatest city in the world to represent. They will love you during your career and long after you’ve retired. So always give 100% in everything. It sounds like Gordon is prepared to take those words to heart. He has quite the legacy to live up to. How appropriate that his new #6 happens to be the sum total of Tillman’s #33.
Maybe a coincidence or perhaps fate.