On Thursday, the Chicago Bears paid tribute to Brian Piccolo as all 90 players wore jerseys #41 during mini-camp practice. Piccolo, who played for the Bears from 1966 to 1969, developed testicular cancer in 1969 and died at the age of 26 in 1970.
Bears coach Matt Eberflus felt it was important that his team reflect on Piccolo’s legacy and addressed the players before practice.
“To honor the legacy and family of Brian Piccolo, this was the main message. Sometimes it’s hard for people or anyone to go back that far and sometimes it’s hard to see the impact that Brian Piccolo had in the late 60’s, Eberflux told reporters Thursday. “He was a really good teammate, he loved to have fun with his teammates, he loved to play pranks on them. Just a real man, a real person, and a Chicago bear.”
Each year, the Bears present the Brian Piccolo Award to one rookie and one veteran who “best exemplifies Piccolo’s courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication and sense of humor.” Running back Khalil Herbert and midfielder Robert Quinn received the award last April.
Piccolo’s family, including his widow and three daughters, was welcomed as special guests at Halas Hall on Thursday. The Bears originally planned to make the gesture for the 50th anniversary of Piccolo’s death, but the COVID-19 pandemic pushed it back two years.