In his retirement, Charles “Peanut’’ Tillman is doing some old things and some new things.
His activities have varied from new to old basically every day. Take the 48-hour stretch of Sunday and Monday for example.
On Sunday, Tillman did something new. He parachuted out of a plane with the Army Golden Knights at the Chicago Air and Water Show. Tillman spent the day before being trained by Sgt. 1st Class Noah Watts.
“It’s kind of a give-and-take considering he entrusted me to train him and I entrusted in him to actually do the training,’’ Watts said. “For him to come out and do the jump, not having any fear – or whatever fear he may have had, it was definitely held back. Whatever nervousness – as a parachutist, he was wonderful. He did everything he was supposed to do. He stuck to his goal of wanting to exit the aircraft over his hometown of Chicago.’’
Tillman has long been a booster of the military, but had never jumped out of a plane. He was raised in a military family. He often has said that if he hadn’t been drafted by the NFL, he would have pursued a military career.
Tillman was greeted by his children near the landing zone and described the jump as “amazing’’.
“My noise is running, but I’m good,’’ Tillman said after the jump.
On Monday, Tillman was in much more familiar territory. He was on a football field where he has spent the previous 13 seasons, providing his own version of tandem jumps for the very young defensive backs of the Carolina Panthers. No, Tillman isn’t making a comeback. He’s 35 and content with his decision to retire.
But, for one day, he was spending time with the Panthers, the last team he played for. As a favor to Carolina coach Ron Rivera, who he also worked with in Chicago, Tillman came to work with the entire secondary, but especially rookies James Bradberry, Daryl Worley and Zack Sanchez. Tillman is capable of teaching the young corners just about anything about playing cornerback in the NFL. But he’s focusing on teaching them one thing.
That’s his specialty – the ‘Peanut Punch’. It’s what Tillman is best known for. Throughout his career, Tillman repeatedly punched at balls being carried by offensive players. Throughout his career, Tillman had phenomenal luck using the punch. In 13 seasons, he forced 44 fumbles.
“He was a guy who did some good things for us last year, a guy that really fit into our culture,’’ Rivera said. “We thought it would be a great opportunity to mix somebody in that had some sage wisdom to share with these young guys.’’
The new guys are listening. Bradberry never forced a fumble in college, but he’s looking to change that in the NFL.
“I’ve tried to strip the ball, but it really hasn’t worked out for me,’’ Bradberry said. “So I’m going to try to implement the ‘Peanut Punch’ into my game.’’
Bradberry said he learned more about forcing fumbles in one day than he did in his entire college career.
“It’s pretty much just punching while you’re going to tackle,’’ Bradberry said. “That’s pretty much it. It sounds simple but you’ve got to time it up really well. That’s why he’s so good at it. It was very cool. I remember watching him in high school. He’s a great corner. It’s inspiring to have him out there.’’
Tillman’s career is over. But he still is helping the Panthers and his lessons should pack some punch.