We chat with Chicago Bear Charles Tillman to get the scoop on his upcoming charity event, his hopes for a Super Bowl season, and what Windy City burger he really wants to try next.
Charles Tillman winds up at last year's Celebrity Pro BOWLer Tournament.
Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman may be best known for his skills on the football field, but on Thursday, June 12 (6 p.m.) he’ll take his athletic prowess to the bowling alley with his Charles Tillman Celebrity Pro BOWLer Tournament at Kings Bowl America (5505 Park Pl., Rosemont, 847-233-0099). At the event, guests can purchase lane sponsorships for teams—which comprise six people and one celebrity—or individual tickets to watch the tournament while enjoying food, music, and more (register at charlestillman.org). The event raises money to benefit Tillman’s own Charles Tillman Cornerstone Foundation, which supports underserved children and their families.
We caught up with Tillman to see which fellow Bears he’ll be bowling with this year—and found out about his Super Bowl hopes and favorite burgers while we were at it.
Congratulations on the third Charles Tillman Celebrity Pro BOWLer Tournament! What inspired you to start this event? CHARLES TILLMAN: We were trying to do something new and trying to do something creative, and bowling seemed to be a good fit. So, let’s bowl, why not? Everyone can participate. It’s not a male-dominated sport like football that mostly guys play—we wanted to [reach] out to women, as well.
What was your inspiration for starting the Charles Tillman Cornerstone Foundation? CT: Well, initially when we started back in 2005, we were an education-based organization, but in 2008 when my daughter was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, we decided to switch our mission statement and [go to the] medical side of helping families.
What can we expect from the event this year? CT: You’ll have myself, my teammates, and then there’s bowling. The drinks, the establishment, the bowling, the TVs, the music—it’s like a little party.
Are any of your teammates coming this year? CT: Right now, I’ve got Tim Jennings and Craig Steltz.
Speaking of the Bears, although you didn’t grow up in Chicago, you were born here and you play for the city’s home football team—what’s that like? CT: I’ve been here, in and out of Chicago, my whole life. Both of my grandparents, and both of my parents were born and raised [in Chicago], and graduated from South Shore, and my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, they all still stay here and it’s fun. I definitely knew my way around the South Side of town, so that was fun. [And] downtown, all the deep-dish pizza and Garrett Popcorn, I already knew all that stuff existed before I got here.
Do you have any favorite places in Chicago? CT: When I stay the night in the city, I’m always at the Park Hyatt. They have the best rooms. The best spa I’ve been to is in the JW Marriott. And any of the Garrett’s Popcorn spots are poppin’. If I’m doing pizza, I like Bacino’s. I’m always looking for burrito or burger joints, I’m like a real connoisseur—burritos and burgers, those are two of my favorite foods.
Any favorites so far on the burrito and burger scene? CT: There’s a spot that Lance [Briggs] told me to go to—Au Cheval. I haven’t had a chance to go get a burger, maybe I might go today, but I heard their burger is amazing!
You should definitely try it! Lastly, any thoughts on the NFL Draft and the upcoming football season? CT: Hopefully everything pans out the way everyone expected, and come February we’ll be marching down Michigan Avenue with a Super Bowl trophy.