Charles “Peanut” Tillman is finally eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. While the first-ballot class features some incredible players, like Peyton Manning and Charles Woodson, Tillman should be one of the select few to get his call to the Hall.
Glancing at Tillman’s career numbers, a few stats pop out immediately. He scored nine touchdowns, defended 140 passes, intercepted 38 balls and forced a truly incredible 44 fumbles. In 2012 alone, Tillman forced 10 (!) fumbles, including a historic performance against the Titans when he punched the ball out four times. While it’s not officially tracked by the league, according to Pro Football Reference, Tillman’s 44 forced fumbles place him tied for sixth in NFL history.
To give you an idea of how rare it is to have that many interceptions and forced fumbles, here’s a neat graph from 2016.
His signature move, the “Peanut Punch,” was so effective that it revolutionized how defensive backs attack the ball carrier. Each and every week in the NFL today, you see players running full speed with their fists cocked, ready to punch the ball out to create a turnover. It’s so rare to have a single player create such a lasting impact on how the game is played, that Tillman’s influence deserves to be recognized.
During his career, Tillman was also known as one of the best open field tacklers in the league. He could go one-on-one with practically any back and bring them down to prevent a big gain. He also rose to the challenge of covering a team’s No. 1 threat every week. Ripping the ball out of Randy Moss’ hands in the end zone, as a rookie comes to mind immediately when thinking of career highlights.
He also earned the respect of his opponents. Here are a few nice things Calvin Johnson and Aaron Rodgers had to say about facing Tillman twice every season:
When Aaron Rodgers says you’re Hall of Fame material, it means something.
Off the field, Tillman’s charitable work earned him the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award in 2013 and the Salute to Service award in 2012. His foundation has worked to improve the lives of chronically ill children, and their families. They distribute donations to keep “families out of homelessness and hopelessness due to insurmountable medical bills.” In addition, Tillman’s foundation gives critically ill children around Chicago access to iPads, laptops and video game systems to help them pass the time during their treatment and recovery.
The Hall of Fame will announce their 15 finalists for this year’s ballot in January.