Cleat Geeks

Chicago Bears Announce Brian Piccolo Award Winners

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On April 28th, the Chicago Bears honored cornerback, Kyle Fuller and running back, Matt Forte as the 2014 winners of the prestigious Brian Piccolo Award during a ceremony at Halas Hall. This honor has been given to a Bears rookie since 1970 and expanded to include a veteran in 1992. Bears players vote for teammates who best show courage, teamwork, dedication, and sense of humor like Brian Piccolo did.

Brian Piccolo was a Bears running back who died from embroyonal cell carcinoma on June 16th, 1970 at the age of 26. “I want to say how much of an honor it is to be a recipient of the Brian Piccolo Award,” Fuller said. “None of this would have been made possible alone, so I would like to thank God for blessing me with the ability to play this game, my family, my parents for always being there for me, supporting me growing up, my brothers for supporting me and competing with me to make me the player I am today, my teammates for voting for me, the McCaskey family—especially Virginia McCaskey—the entire Bears organization and the previous staff for giving me the opportunity to play in Chicago.”

The Bears selected Fuller (Virginia Tech) with the 14th pick in the first downloadround of last year’s draft. He appeared in all 16 games with 14 starts, recording 73 tackles. He also tied with safety, Ryan Mundy for the team lead with four interceptions and topped the defense with nine pass breakups. “This award represents humility, loyalty, friendship, hard work, perseverance and most of all courage,” Fuller said. “These are all things that I worked hard at growing up, so I’m thankful for this award.”

Matt Forte was not present to receive his award, but left a message for senior director of special projects, Patrick McCaskey to read: “I’d like to accept the Piccolo award with the utmost respect and humility. Thank you to all my teammates that thought I was so deserving of this award that they voted for me. It is an honor to be selected as this year’s winner, but as you may know, success doesn’t come solely on one’s shoulders. So with that being said, I’d like to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for the help, strength and many blessings that he’s given me. And last but not least, thank you to my teammates for helping in my success on and off the field. God Bless and Bear down.”

Last season Forte set a single season record for receptions by a running back with 102 and became just the second player in NFL history to catch 100 passes and rush for 1,000 yards in the same season, joining LaDainian Tomlinson. Bears Offensive coordinator, Adam Gase spoke about Forte. “We’re looking forward to working with him,” Gase said. “I know his production in his career and his personality has been outstanding here with the Bears, and I know this staff is really anxious to get him back in the building.” Virginia McCaskey, George McCaskey, Patrick McCaskey, and Brian McCaskey were all in attendance at the ceremony. Members of the Piccolo family were also there, Brian’s widow, Joy Piccolo O’Connell and two of their three daughters, Traci and Kristi. Brian Piccolo joined the Chicago Bears in 1965 as an undrafted free agent after leading the nation with 111 points and 1,044 yards rushing as a senior at Wake Forest. A chest x-ray revealed a malignancy during his fourth year in the NFL. He passed away several months later. When he passed, the disease was 100 percent fatal, but today, thanks in part to the millions of dollars raised by the Brian Piccolo Cancer Research Fund; the cure rate is more than 50 percent. The fund has raised more than 8.5 million since 1991.

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