Fifty-two years after his tragic death, Brian Piccolo’s legacy is still celebrated by the Chicago Bears.
On Thursday, the anniversary of Piccolo’s death, all 90 players on the final day of the Bears’ mandatory mini-camp donned the number 41 running back jersey to honor his memory.
“It just hit me, it really is,” Joy Piccolo O’Connell, Brian’s widow, said of the tribute. via Larry Mayer on the team website. “It means a lot to all of us. It’s a really special tribute.”
Piccolo O’Connell was one of about 20 members of the Piccolo family who attended Thursday’s practice, including each of Brian and Joy’s daughters Lori, Tracey and Christy, according to the team’s website.
Piccolo played four seasons with the Bears from 1966 to 1969. His career and life were cut short by cancer, as Piccolo died at the age of 26 after battling embryonic cell carcinoma.
Honor Thursday was originally scheduled to take place in 2020, the 50th anniversary of Piccolo’s death. However, then off-season training was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Piccolo, an undrafted free agent from Wake Forest, has long been praised for his determination, courage and the example he sets as a teammate.
The Bears retired his number and each year present the Brian Piccolo Award, given to the Chicago player voted by teammates as the best example.”courage, loyalty, teamwork and a sense of humorPiccolo. He, of course, was also caught every autumn Brian’s song1971 film in which James Caan portrays Piccolo and Billy Dee Williams plays Hall of Famer teammate Piccolo Gale Sayers.
With the Bears 2022 wrapping up their mini-camp this Thursday, Piccolo’s memory and legacy continues.
“It’s really special for all of us that the Bears continue to honor him the way they do,” said Piccolo’s daughter, Tracey Piccolo Dolby. “It just makes us feel so good.”