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Views: Family comes first for Bears’ Tillman

The Bears’ Charles Tillman (right) prevents the Tennessee Titans’ Chris Johnson from recovering his fumble while the ball bounces past Lance Briggs (left) on Sunday in Nashville, Tenn.
The Bears’ Charles Tillman (right) prevents the Tennessee Titans’ Chris Johnson from recovering his fumble while the ball bounces past Lance Briggs (left) on Sunday in Nashville, Tenn.

I was pacing the third floor waiting room in the birth center of the hospital in Beaumont, Texas, wondering what I would do.

It was early on a Wednesday morning late in 2010, I was in a new state on the other end of the country and within minutes my second daughter would be born. I was in that waiting room, watching my oldest daughter, wondering what to do.

My first four phone calls went unanswered. The fourth and final option, via text, responded.

Had he not, I would have missed the birth – and probably the naming – of my second daughter.

I know how I felt in that moment, and how I feel now about it.

And, though I made plenty of mistakes that week and since, I would have never forgiven myself for not being there.

That’s why, when Charles Tillman said he could miss Sunday night’s matchup with the Houston Texans if his wife is in labor with his fourth child that night, I wasn’t fazed. I can’t imagine a parent who would be.

Tillman’s second child, Tiana, needed a heart transplant before she was 1. And he gets how important this is.

It’s simply the only option.

The odds the birth happens on a Sunday are 1 in 7. So it most likely won’t come into play.

But the fact anyone is surprised by this is stunning in itself. Brandon Marshall agreed.

“You take on the character of your leader, and Coach Smith, since Day One in my own personal business, he’s always preached family first,” Marshall said. “Whether I had to go out of town in OTAs to visit a family member or do something with family, it’s no argument, it’s ‘Take care of your family.’ ”

Jay Cutler had a son earlier this football season. He arrived on a Wednesday.

If he hadn’t, we’d have had this discussion before.

Football is unique.

They play once a week and get paid, in Tillman’s case, nearly $500,000 a regular-season game.

But money doesn’t change the importance of being there for the birth of his child. That’s universal.

Come December or January, I’ll disappear from these pages briefly. You probably won’t even notice. But I’ll be there, by my wife’s side, as she has our third child.

It might not be the right decision for everyone. But it should be their choice.

For Tillman, it will be the same decision.

But if it comes down to choosing one or the other, there’s no choice. The game is secondary.

That is just common sense.

The pick: Back to football for a minute, I think this will be one of the better matchups of the year. Two of the best defenses, defenders, offensive threat and teams meeting up.

Houston has a defense to compete with the Bears, and an offense to beat them.

That’s why I see the Texans beating them out.

Styf’s pick: Texans 28, Bears 24

• Shaw Media sports editor Jon Styf can be reached at

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