LAKE FOREST – Family comes first for Bears cornerback Charles Tillman.
Tillman’s wife is pregnant with the couple’s fourth child, a girl who could arrive any day. And if the baby waits until Sunday night to enter the world, then Tillman said he would skip the Bears’ game against the Houston Texans to be by his family’s side.
“At the end of the day, that’s all you have,” Tillman said Wednesday after practice at Halas Hall. “To me, this game is important to me, but after what we went through with my middle child, Tiana, to me football is second. It’ll always be second or third in my life.
“That was a great lesson learned, to teach me that family, when I’m done playing football, my family will always be there for me.”
Tiana Tillman was born with an enlarged heart and required a heart transplant when she was six months old. Her struggles and subsequent recovery inspired Tillman to create the Charles Tillman Cornerstone Foundation.
Although the Bears hope Tillman’s baby arrives any time other than Sunday night, they said they would understand if their Pro Bowl cornerback missed the game.
Tillman said he would be able to play if his daughter was born Sunday morning.
“It’s family first,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said. “If there is something you feel like you need to do for your family, always do that. How we look at it is like an injury: If a player can’t go, it’s next guy up. We’ll keep going.”
Kind words: Tillman also thanked President Barack Obama, who said during a broadcast of ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” that Tillman was playing like the defensive player of the year.
“I think it’s a huge honor,” Tillman said. “I’m happy he won. I wish congratulations to him and his family. …
“I was actually asleep when he did the interview. I go to sleep early [with] four kids. I was asleep, but I had a bunch of text messages that morning when I woke up.”
Bears bits: Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery remained out because of a hand injury. He has not practiced or played since suffering the injury Oct. 7. … Three players were limited during practice because of injuries: defensive end Israel Idonije (ankle), defensive tackle Henry Melton (back) and defensive tackle Matt Toeaina (calf).