Charles Tillman

Charles Tillman, Alex Brown among former Bears who returned to Halas Hall for rookie minicamp

Charles Tillman, Alex Brown among former Bears who returned to Halas Hall for rookie minicamp

Charles Tillman and Alex Brown were among seven former Chicago Bears who visited the team's rookie minicamp this weekend, offering an in-depth look at what it means to be a Bear.

"I just think you get real-life stories from guys that have been in these shoes," Matt Nagy said, via ChicagoBears.com. "It's one thing for coaches to say it; it's another thing to have real-life people come in who have been in this organization and have had good experiences. I think if you look around and see the guys, they're taking it all in. You can't replicate that."

The Bears are evaluating 70 players at Halas Hall ranging from first-round pick Roquan Smith to journeyman quarterback Aaron Murray, a former fifth-round pick of the Chiefs in 2014.

Tillman and Brown were joined by Jay Hilgenberg, Steve McMichael, Marcus Robinson, Bob Wetoska and James "Big Cat" Williams.

Brown, a fourth-round pick out of Florida in 2002, made sure he studied Bears history when he was a rookie.

"I did my best to learn as much as I could about the Bears, and nobody's history goes back as far as the Bears because they were here in the beginning," Brown said. "And then understanding what Papa Bear meant to the team. Understanding the players that have come through here that kind of paved the road all the way through for us to be here. It's not like the Jacksonville Jaguars that started in the mid-90s. This was started in the beginning. You can't go further back than the Chicago Bears."

Chicago's history of Hall-of-Fame linebackers will cast a hovering shadow over Smith, the eighth pick overall, who's said all the right things to reporters during his first few days on the field. 

“I’m not thinking about just being a starter,” Smith told reporters Friday. “I’ll start on special teams if that’s what they want me to do, I’ll do it. It’s not like I’m just saying, ‘Hey, I have to be the starter.’ You crawl before you walk.”

Smith gets it. And if he stays the course, he'll soon add his name to the growing list of legendary Bears defenders.

"There's three ways to get on the unfailing road in life," McMichael said. "You show up early, you pay attention and you work your butt off. Now if you're about them three things, you're going to be a success—in life, not just football."

Charles Tillman: FBI agent?

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USA TODAY

Charles Tillman: FBI agent?

Charles Tillman isn't wasting time on life after football.

The former Bears cornerback — one of the best defensive players in an illustrious franchise history — is reportedly training to be an FBI agent, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Tillman turns 37 in February and last played in the NFL in 2015 with the Carolina Panthers. His age is an issue, as the Tribune notes, FBI guidlines stipulate a candidate cannot be 37 at time of appointment, meaning Tillman had to act fast if he wanted to become a special agent.

Tillman studied criminal justice at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. 

In his 12-year NFL career, Tillman appeared in 168 games, tallying 38 interceptions, 141 passes defensed and an incredible 44 forced fumbles. He jarred 10 balls loose in 2012 alone and earned his own wrestling move nickname for his ball-smacking prowess — the Peanut Punch.

Now Tillman apparently is taking his punching talents to Quantico, Virginia.

NFL Network analysts: Bears can take anyone at No. 3 in NFL Draft

NFL Network analysts: Bears can take anyone at No. 3 in NFL Draft

By Jasmine Minor,
CSN Chicago contributor

PHILADELPHIA — On the eve of the Draft, NFL Network analysts couldn’t clarify who the Bears will take in the first round. The reason? There are many positions to fill and plenty of talent to select.

“That’s the good thing about where the Bears are at right now. The good news is no matter what you pick, it’s going to help,” NFL Network analyst Brian Billick said.

Addressing the need for a franchise quarterback still remains in question. However, none of the quarterback prospects have built enough confidence in the analysts to suggest a first round pick for the Bears.

“There were some rumors that this (Mike) Glennon contract can be a one-year deal and it wouldn’t shock us if they loved a guy to take him at three,” NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said. “But, I don’t see that happening.”

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In fact, former star NFL wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. says it’s the defense that will bring the team back to prominence.

“You have to take a little bit of pressure off the offense … when you go back and look at the years [the Bears] were making the playoffs, with Lance Briggs, Mike Brown, Peanut [Charles Tillman], Brian Urlacher … great defensive teams.”

Nevertheless, Billick kept it simple in how the Bears can fix their bad season blues.

“Get a boatload of good players.”

For more on this story, check out the video above.

CSN Chicago, in partnership with Northwestern University,  features journalism by students in the graduate program at Medill School of Journalism. The students are reporters for Medill News Service. Medill faculty members edit the student work. Click here for more information about Medill.