Former Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Tillman has graduated from the FBI's Training Academy in Quantico, Va., and is now an agent, Sporting News has learned.
The 13-year NFL veteran entered the 20-week program last year, as first reported by the Chicago Tribune, and had until his 37th birthday (Feb. 23, 2018) to earn his badge due to a stipulation that a new agent must be appointed before he or she reaches that age.
A spokesman for the bureau told Sporting News that it does not comment on personnel matters, and Tillman's family couldn't be reached, but a source close to the situation said on the eve of Tillman's 37th birthday, "He is currently working for the FBI. (He) has his badge and everything."
A source told SN in 2017 not to expect a grand announcement from the FBI if Tillman succeeded.
"They will try to get him to fade to anonymity as much as they can," said retired U.S. Marshal Kim Widup, a 38-year law enforcement veteran who led the Whitewater investigation. "But I think at some point the FBI will also use it as part of their recruiting policy, as in, 'Look who we got.'”
Tillman is not the first high-profile athlete to be connected to law enforcement. Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Herschel Walker made well known his interest in taking FBI classes. Basketball Hall of Fame center Shaquille O’Neal is a deputy marshal in Louisiana, a reserve police officer in Florida and a sheriff’s deputy in Georgia. Not totally unrelated, former NFL guard Daryn Colledge enlisted in the Army National Guard in March 2016, and more notably, Pat Tillman left the Arizona Cardinals in June 2002 to enlist in the Army Rangers in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Charles Tillman spent the first 12 years of his NFL career in Chicago, making first-team All Pro in 2012 and helping the Bears reach Super Bowl 41, which they lost 29-17 to Peyton Manning and the Colts. He spent his final NFL season with the Panthers but suffered an ACL tear in the 2015 regular-season finale. That injury ultimately led to him missing out on a chance to face the Manning-led Broncos in Super Bowl 50, which Carolina lost 24-10.
Tillman finished that season with 55 tackles and two interceptions, giving him 911 and 38, respectively, for his career. The 2013 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year amassed 44 forced fumbles over 168 career games, using a technique that became known as the "Peanut Punch."
That his second career choice now involves punching out crime isn't out of character for the son of an Army sergeant who graduated from Louisiana-Lafayette with a degree in criminal justice and spent some of his NFL offseasons working with law enforcement personnel.
Athletic Network Footnote by Dr. Ed Dugas. Click here for the 2002 Student Athlete Advisory Committee photo gallery when Peanut was active in the Lafayette Community. Special appreciation is extended to Pat McDonald for sending this story to the Athletic Network.