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Retired NFL player Charles Tillman has taken up a surprising gig following his retirement from football, one that may place him in the presence of “dangerous criminals” and terrorists.
The legendary Chicago Bears cornerback officially became an FBI agent after completing the organization’s rigorous training academy last year, according to a report from the Chicago Tribune. The 38-year-old Tillman is now in a probationary period until 2020, as the FBI typically gives new agents two years to learn the workings of the bureau before being placed in the field.
“Each special agent must have the knowledge, skills, commitment, and fortitude to investigate terrorists, spies, and a raft of dangerous criminals — all while wielding their law enforcement powers with compassion for those they encounter and respect for the U.S. Constitution and the laws they enforce,” reads a page from the FBI’s website describing the training program, which lasts about 20 weeks.
“For the agents in training, just getting in the door hasn’t been easy,” the description continues. “They’ve competed against hundreds of thousands of like-minded Americans in one of the most rigorous and selective application processes in the nation.”
Representatives of the FBI declined to comment when contacted by PEOPLE.
Tillman played 12 seasons with Chicago before joining the Carolina Panthers and appearing in the 2015 Super Bowl during his final year in the league. By the time he retired, Tillman amassed 38 interceptions.
While the two-time Pro Bowler had much success during his time in the league, he was also a winner off the field. Tillman was awarded the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2013 due to his work to help pediatric hospital patients through his Cornerstone Foundation.
“I’m just trying to do my small part,” Tillman said at the time, according to ESPN. “I don’t think any of the [Walter Payton Award] finalists do what they do to get recognition. But we do it because we are passionate about helping others.”
As noted by the NFL, Tillman and his wife, Jackie Tillman, are both credited with building a school in Cambodia, and the former football player was recently awarded the 2018 Player Foundation Grant for his continued work with the foundation.
According to the Tribune, Tillman graduated from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. His father, Donald Tillman Jr., served as a sergeant in the Army.
Tillman still makes time to visit Chicago for Bears games and has even been spotted sitting in the crowd, waiting to surprise unsuspecting fans wearing his jersey.