PHOENIX – It was a brief meeting at Halas Hall, but Bears cornerback Charles Tillman walked away with a great feeling – a sense of excitement for what’s ahead for his beloved team.
“I saw some people; I saw everybody,” Tillman said Thursday of a recent visit to Halas Hall. “I just think it’s a good year to get excited about Chicago Bears football.”
Those people would include new Bears coach John Fox and general manager Ryan Pace. Tillman said it was a brief introduction, consisting of small talk and some pleasantries for about 30 to 60 seconds
But “within those 30 seconds, it was all good,” said Tillman, who is in Phoenix as part of the NFL Honors awards show as last year’s Walter Payton Man of the Year winner.
NFL circles have been abuzz over the Bears’ decision to hire Fox. There has been an overflow of compliments for the move – including some unsolicited praise – throughout Super Bowl week.
It’s a move that’s definitely won over Tillman and linebacker Lance Briggs after two tough, injury-filled seasons after the firing of Lovie Smith.
Just when it looked like other teams could offer better situations for Tillman and Briggs, the arrival of Fox, and to a lesser extent, Pace have led to hopes for more time in Chicago.
“I echo what Lance said [on Wednesday],” said Tillman, who was brought back in 2014 on a one-year deal with a $2.25 million base salary.
“I think it was a great hire. I think Chicago Bears fans should be excited about what the Bears are doing from the GM all the way to the position coaches. I think they’ve made some great moves.
“I thought it was thumbs up, four stars. I thought it was a great move on [president] Ted Phillips and [chairman] George McCaskey. I thought it was a great hire on their part. I think they’re moving in the right direction to get Chicago Bears football back to where it was.”
Like Briggs, Pace has questions to consider with Tillman. He’s entering his 13th season and there are durability concerns after tearing his right triceps.
“I feel good,” Tillman said. “Rehabbing, but I feel awesome, like I’m ready to go.”
Still, there’s been an unmistakable sense of rejuvenation in Tillman’s and Briggs’ words this week, especially when talking about Fox.
“Two Super Bowls, two different teams,” Tillman said. “He’s done really some good stuff. He’s got a great resume.”
Tillman and Briggs both believe they can play on and would like to for Fox, though their futures are very much uncertain right now.
“Yeah, I’d like to be in Chicago,” Tillman said. “I’m feeling good, feel great. I’ve been there 12 years. It would be 13 now. I don’t know. We’ll see what happens.”