After spending his entire career in Chicago, it wasn’t easy for Charles Tillman to move.
But in coming to Charlotte, Tillman almost feels at home.
Tillman said signing with the Panthers was an easy choice for a number of factors, not the least of which were the personal bonds he has with many of the people there.
His familiarity with coach Ron Rivera was significant, but far from the only relationship he built over the years.
Via Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review, Tillman said that defensive backs coach Steve Wilks was one of his closest confidantes when his daughter Tiana was having heart problems which ultimately led to a transplant.
“He was someone I would lean on and call and get advice. We cried together. It was a rough time,” Tillman said. “He was more than a coach for me during that time. He was a friend, a mentor, big brother, and I’m very grateful for that.”
That’s similar to the role Tillman holds with Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, whose young son had to undergo multiple heart procedures as well, giving the two more than a shared time with the Bears in common.
“That was one of the first things my wife and I thought about: We’ve got to make this move, but I’ve got to find good doctors. We’ve got good doctors here, but I know they have great doctors in Carolina as well,” Tillman said. “They’ve been on it. His wife and mine have been texting all day.”
And as daunting as making a late-career move can be, having that kind of support structure in place is going to make it easier for Tillman, at a number of levels.