Mike Tilleman
No. 74, 78
Position:Defensive tackle
Personal information
Born:(1944-03-30)March 30, 1944
Zurich, Montana, U.S.
Died:September 18, 2020(2020-09-18) (aged 76)
Chinook, Montana, U.S.
Height:6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)
Weight:272 lb (123 kg)
Career information
High school:Chinook (Chinook, Montana)
NFL Draft:1965 / Round: 12 / Pick: 163
AFL Draft:1965 / Round: Red Shirt 5 / Pick: 34
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Games Played:149
Games Started:137
Fumbles Recovered:5
Player stats at NFL.com · PFR

Michael John Tilleman (March 30, 1944 – September 18, 2020) was an American professional football player who was a defensive tackle in the National Football League (NFL) for 11 seasons (1966–76). He played college football for the Montana Grizzlies.


Early life

Tilleman was born and raised on a ranch near Zurich, Montana by Henry (Hank) and Irma Tilleman (née D'Hooge), where he went to school in a one-room schoolhouse. He was a prep star at Chinook High School and attended the University of Montana on scholarship.

Playing career

Tilleman played for the Grizzlies from 1963 to 1964, where he was a second-team All-Big Sky Conference selection in both seasons. After graduating from UM, he bypassed his senior season to sign with the Minnesota Vikings who had selected him with the 163rd pick of the 1965 NFL Draft. He was drafted in earlier rounds by the Kansas City Chiefs but opted for the Vikings because the NFL was a stronger league than the AFL.

He played for four different NFL teams during his pro career: two years for the Minnesota Vikings, he was drafted in the expansion draft by the New Orleans Saints and hence an original Saint, two years for the Houston Oilers bought out his option with the Oilers and was traded for a first-round draft choice by the Atlanta Falcons to get him to Atlanta. He finished his pro career in Atlanta. An offensive lineman once commented that he would rather catch javelins for an hour than to take head slaps from Mike Tilleman.

Personal life

Mike and his wife Gloria lived in Havre, Montana, where they ran Tilleman Motor Company, a local General Motors dealership. They had three grown children, Suzanne, Christopher and Craig, the latter of whom runs the car dealership.

Mike Tilleman hosted a celebrity pheasant hunt, called "Legends for Lights", where former NFL players went to Havre every Fall and all money raised was donated to the Northern Lights Athletic Foundation for the MSU-Northern athletic program, providing scholarships and paying for one full-time coaching position.[2]

Tilleman died on September 18, 2020, aged 76.[3]


  1. ^ 2008 Big Sky Conference Football Media Guide[permanent dead link], Big Sky Conference, 2008 (accessed online January 30, 2009)
  2. ^ "Alumni Notes". The Montanan. Missoula, Montana: University of Montana. 2005. Retrieved August 27, 2011.
  3. ^ Area legend Mike Tilleman passes away at age 76