Yesterday, the Bears honored defensive tackle Akiem Hicks and linebacker Roquan Smith as the 2018 season winners of the prestigious Brian Piccolo Award during a ceremony at Halas Hall.
The honor has been given to a Bears rookie since 1970 and was expanded in 1992 to include a veteran. Bears players vote for teammates who best exemplify the courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication and sense of humor of Brian Piccolo, a Bears running back who died from embryonal cell carcinoma on June 16, 1970 at the age of 26.
Bears defensive lineman, Akiem Hicks has been a key contributor to the ascending Bears these past three seasons. The 2018 All Pro who came from New Orleans in 2015, seems right at home in Chicago and espouses the team focus just like his coach, Matt Nagy. Hicks had 311 career tackles, 32.5 sacks, and 76 quarterback hits.
Inside linebacker Roquan Smith had 121 tackles in his rookie season along with 5 sacks and 5 quarterback hits. Smith also had 1 interception.
Sporting Chance Press author Patrick McCaskey emceed Tuesday’s ceremony. Brian Piccolo played for four short seasons, but he left a legacy of courage with the Bears and the NFL. Piccolo played fullback. He blocked for his superstar teammate Gale Sayers and he filled in for Sayers as well when he was injured. Piccolo was diagnosed with cancer, which ended his career in 1969 and his life in 1970 at age 26. His life and relationship with Sayers and the Bears was presented in the popular 1971 movie “Brian’s Song,” which was remade in 2001.
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