Charles Tillman is a man

Rob Carr

Charles Tillman may miss a football game to attend the birth of his child. Bobby Big Wheel explains why it's idiotic to suggest that he should be forced to play, Mike Florio.

Charles Tillman is a man

When you call an athlete a "man" it usually connotes that he's grown into his role and plays like a true pro. Grit, hustle, determination; all the sportswritery words apply to him. Charles Tillman is a man. Quarterbacks don't throw in his direction any more. He leads the league in forced fumbles with seven (three players are tied for second place with four apiece). Tillman made Calvin Johnson look like Alvin Harper on national TV. Even President Obama knows who he is; he singled out Tillman as a reason why the Bears could win the Super Bowl in his Monday Night Football interview with Chris Berman. The president sure as hell doesn't know who I am (Biden does though; he's a former Deadspin commenter too). So yeah, Charles Tillman plays like a man.

Charles Tillman is a man

Charles Tillman is a man in that other sense, that he's got a Y chromosome and he's reached adulthood. Adulthood, of course, doesn't always align with age. Plenty of Peter Pans out there are older than Tillman but wouldn't qualify as men, but Tillman certainly does. He's spent years honing his craft to reach the top of his profession. He has a charitable organization that, unlike a lot of athletes' charitable foundations, isn't just a front to employ lazy relatives and helps over 80,000 critically ill children per year. He's also a husband to one and a father to three. Sounds like a man to me.

Charles Tillman is a man

Charles Tillman is a man whose wife is pregnant with a baby that is due on Sunday. The Bears play the Texans on Sunday night, but he might miss the game to witness the birth of his child. That's because his daughter Tiana was born with an enlarged heart and after that ordeal Tillman decided that family would come before football. Tillman, like me, is one of those people who was lucky enough to have a father who is his role model. And he also knows that family, not football, will be there for you if you hit rock bottom.

It makes sense that Tillman would prioritize family because he understands just how great a father who loves you unconditionally can be. That unconditional love can manifest itself in many ways. Some men think it requires working even when it means missing time with your family so you can support them. Tillman takes a different stance. But he's a man, so it's his prerogative to decide whether he attends the birth of his child or plays a football game.

Charles Tillman is a man

Charles Tillman is a man who wants to see the birth of his child. Set aside the fact that seeing the birth of a human being that you created is a fantastic and rare experience, he may just want to go to support his wife. It's easy for a man to get a woman pregnant. A lot of fun too. It's hard for a woman to carry a healthy baby to term. From what I gather, it's not a lot of fun. The least a man can do is show up for the painful payoff of that pregnancy.

Charles Tillman is a man

The fact that Charles Tillman is a man seems lost on Mike Florio. The Pro Football Talk impresario thinks that players should not miss games to witness the birth of their children. His reasoning is easy to debunk:

  • Football players sign up to be available no matter what 16 days a year. Football players miss games all the time due to injuries and illness, which are side effects of being human beings. I suppose you could argue that Tillman is making a choice to miss a game whereas injuries involuntarily keep players out of the game. In that case, please note that Dennis Dixon, Philip Rivers, Robert Marve and many others have played football on torn ACLs. It's often possible for an injured player to suit up, but most would rather recuperate so they will be in peak playing condition for future games. For all we know, Tillman wouldn't be able to focus if he knew his wife was in labor during the game.The decision is his. Deal with it. Until we replace football players with Cleatuses, ownership and fans need to deal with the fact that players will miss games because they are, in fact, people.
  • Players should only engage in "family expansion activities" when they are unlikely to produce a child during football season. Seriously, Florio called sex "family expansion activities." Most people get over their hangup of calling intercourse "sex" around the age of 9. Anyway, football season lasts from early September to early February. I'd love to hear Florio's plan to keep men in their 20s who are beloved by attractive women from having sex for five months, but I imagine that it involves pixie dust.
  • Players' wives shouldn't give birth between September and February. My birthday is in August, and after a few glasses of white wine my mother will gladly tell you about how awful it is to be nine months pregnant in the middle of summer. In Mike Florio's world that doesn't matter because the football team, not the actual women giving birth to children, is paramount. It never even crossed Mike Florio's mind that a woman might want to have a say in when she gives birth.
  • Teams shouldn't suffer the consequences of players fathering children. Never mind the fact that Lovie Smith supports Tillman's decision and arguing that the Bears don't want him to play a game instead of seeing the birth of his child is a moot point. Federal law (the Family Medical Leave Act) requires employers to offer employees up to 12 weeks unpaid leave to attend to family matters such as Tillman's. And the Thirteenth Amendment makes it so that you cannot force someone to work for you. Florio is a lawyer, so he should know that Tillman has a legal right to miss a game to see the birth of his child. Teams hire men, not fungible pass defending units.

Charles Tillman is a man

And Mike Florio doesn't care. He's made a career out of stirring shit, and not even attempting to report news in a measured manner. He even tracks player arrests with a "Turd Watch" because he's the only lawyer on the planet who thinks that an arrested person is automatically guilty (and that being guilty of any crime makes one a turd). His commenters largely agree with him, mostly because they, too, like the way the floor feels on their knuckles as they walk.

Charles Tillman is just another vehicle for Mike Florio to get pageviews by saying controversial stuff while hoping people who think he's full of shit come back to the site because he does a good job of purveying intelligence (please note that @NFL_ATL gives you the same intel as PFT* but has none of its crap agenda). Florio has the power to make reckless and hacky statements, but the next time that he pulls his head out of his ass long enough to write one he should act like a professional and remember that when he writes about a football player he writes about an actual person.

In other words, Mike Florio needs to start acting like a fucking man.

*And of course, our own fine NFL feed, @sbnfootball --ed.

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