Bears' Charles Tillman vows to play against Texans Sunday, baby due Monday

Charles Tillman and his wife Jackie in a 2012 file photo.
Getty

LAKE FOREST, Ill. Chicago Bears star cornerback Charles Tillman says on Twitter that he will play Sunday against the Houston Texans, after all.

Tillman's status had been up in the air after he told Chicago radio station WSCR-AM that he might not be available because his wife, Jackie, is due to give birth.

But in a message to ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike In The Morning" show, he wrote "god, family, football... Baby is coming Monday don't worry I'll be there Sunday."

This will be the couple's fourth child. Their daughter, Tiana, needed a heart transplant a few months after she was born in 2008.

Tillman is making a case for defensive player of the year, and he forced four fumbles last Sunday at Tennessee. His teammates on the NFC North leaders expressed their support for him before practice on Wednesday.

"We understand how things are run around here," receiver Brandon Marshall said. "This is a special group. Coach (Lovie) Smith is a special guy, definitely in how he runs things, and like I said you take on the character of your leader. That's what he preaches - family comes first."

Some sports writers have come down on players who choose to miss games to be present for the birth of their babies. Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio said this week that NFL players "have made a lifestyle choice that entails being available 16 days per year, no matter what."

Last year, Texas newspaper columnist Richie Witt criticized Rangers pitcher Colby Lewis for choosing to be in the delivery room for the birth of his second child instead of taking his turn on the pitcher's mound.

But most athletes pick family over sports. In September, Dustin Pedroia of the Boston Red Sox left a game against the New York Yankeesin the seventh inning when he was informed that his wife was in labor.