The many facets of legendary sports analyst Spencer Tillman

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Spencer Tillman is one busy guy. He is part of the broadcast team which calls the Texans games and he joins the Eyewitness Sports team on Sunday nights for Inside The Game. The Super Bowl veteran played for San Francisco and Houston, and he is just as driven today as he was back then.

"I am always on. I'm never off," said Tilman while playing the piano. "My wife tells me all the time, lay down."

However, Tillman has too much to do and too many songs to play.

"2, 3, 4 o'clock in the morning I'm up. If I've got an idea that won't let me sleep I'm up," said Tillman.

Tillman said it's rarely quiet in a house which is filled with five women.

"I don't say very much. That's it. The key is not to say a whole lot," said Tillman.

Now Tillman has transferred all of his football knowledge to a full contact classroom.

"I think it starts with the mind. I mean I really do. I learned that a long time ago. Bill Walsh used to talk about the inner game cannot not be played. And that's kind of what I do," said Tillman.

On game days, he does it in the broadcast booth for the Texans preseason games on abc13 and for network broadcasts of college football.

"It is the closest experience that I've found that gives me that sense of urgency and finality. I just don't find that in other aspects of life. I mean its zero sum right? You get cut if you don't do your job in the NFL," said Tillman.

Spencer did his job as a lunch pail running back for the Oilers.

"Hectic and chaotic. I had two tours of duty: one with Jerry Glanville and Jack Pardee, God rest his soul," said Tillman.

He's proud of all of it, except for that 1993 playoff game against Buffalo which set an NFL playoff collapse record. The Oilers lost to Buffalo 41-38.

"That team was more talented than the 49er team. We won the Super Bowl with in that '89 season," said Tillman.

So why did that team fail and the other succeeded? Tillman has a simple answer.

"Because it lacked leadership. It lacked leadership," said Tillman.

His restless mind found the ultimate proving ground under legendary coach Bill Walsh in San Francisco. Nearly 30 years later those conversations still resonate.

"(He would ask me questions such as) do you know why you were able to stay here and be here after that first round draft pick was not here? And he talked about resiliency. All those years later and he connected the dots for me. So Bill Walsh connected the dots for me with respect to leadership and the role it plays and why we succeed and why we fail. And to have that DNA, it's worth its weight in gold," said Tillman.

Bryant Gumble, Jerry Glanville - the names, the moments and the Super Bowl ring mark the convenient road to identity. But the defining voice in Tillman's life doesn't belong to a coach. It belongs to his mother.

"Faith is the currency of heaven. And it's the only form of monetary exchange that God recognizes. So any time I attempt anything, anytime I do anything, I don't have to have the answer, I just to have to have it here," said Tillman, pointing to his heart.
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The words aren't easy when it comes to Larue Tillman, a missionary who touched countless lives with a spirit that glowed. "Mother Sunshine," as she was called, rescued souls and spread hope. She also told her son football is fleeting, even for a Heisman trophy candidate at Oklahoma.

"So what I did as a result of that, there are 71 counties in Oklahoma. I got in my car after practice and I visited 68 of them in the remaining three years at Oklahoma. And I went and spoke to kids and I talked to them about that experience, what I'd gone through," said Tillman.

Those talks continue today. Tillman teaches leadership in schools around the country with his mom's missionary zeal and her demand that service comes first.

"It is the attribute in greatest demand, yet shortest supply. And when you juxtapose that with the reality of where we are right now, I don't think there could be a more appropriate time to put leadership on the mantle as something that our culture really needs to focus on," said Tillman.

He's also on the board of directors at Methodist Hospital and the driving force behind a new look for the Lombardi Award that goes to college football's best lineman.

"I wanted to wrap my head around the value of it, bring in some top minds around the country, Gallup among them, and to come up with a business strategy - how to scale that and to help it reach its goal which is to raise as much money as they possibly can for cancer cures and related causes," said Tillman.
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For Tillman, this is the closet he will get to rest: time with his family, a life defined and football reduced.

"A life well lived is one that understands that truly to be fulfilled you have to serve. That's it," said Tillman.

Tillman still has so many people to serve, including the five most important people in his life.

"If a man does not discover at least one thing that he's willing to die for he's not fit to live, and I've got five," said Tillman.
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