The Chicago Bears and the Brian Piccolo Cancer Research Fund announced RT Jordan Mills and QB Josh McCown as the rookie and veteran winners, respectively, of the 2013 Brian Piccolo Award. The honor has been given to a Bears rookie since 1970 and was expanded in 1992 to include a veteran winner. Bears players vote for the rookie and veteran who best exemplify the courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication and sense of humor of the late Brian Piccolo.
Mills, along with teammate Kyle Long, started all 16 games in 2013, becoming the first Bears players since RB Matt Forté in 2008 to start all 16 games during their rookie season. He and Long are the first Bears offensive linemen since LT Troy Auzenne in 1992 to start all 16 games their rookie season. Mills was a part of an offensive line that allowed just 30 sacks last season, tied for fourth fewest in the NFL.
McCown started five-of-eight games played in 2013, completing 149-of-224 passing attempts for 1,829 yards, 13 touchdowns and one interception. His 109.0 passer rating and 66.5 completion percentage were highest in single-season franchise history.
McCown and Mills were a part of a Bears offense that set a franchise record for total net yards (6,109), gross passing yards (4,450), net passing yards (4,281), passer rating (96.9), completion percentage (64.4), total first downs (344) and passing first downs (215), while finishing second in franchise annals in total points (445) last season. Chicago’s 45 offensive touchdowns in 2013 were fifth most in franchise history and most in the Super Bowl era.
In all, 60 different Bears have won the award including four others on the current roster and one current Bears coach: Matt Forté (2008), Chris Harris (2005), Shea McClellin (2012), Stephen Paea (2012) and Charles Tillman (2003, 2008 and 2012).
Brian Piccolo joined the Bears in 1965, following a senior season at Wake Forest during which he led the nation in scoring (111 points) and rushing (1,044 yards). Piccolo was not selected in the NFL draft, but he signed with the Bears as a free agent and made the club. He was in his fourth season when a chest x-ray revealed a malignancy. Several months later on June 16, 1970, he died at age 26 from embryonal cell carcinoma. At the time Piccolo died, the disease was 100% fatal, but today the cure rate is over 95%. He left behind his wife Joy, three daughters, and legions of friends.
Proceeds from the Brian Piccolo Cancer Research Fund benefit breast cancer research at Rush Medical Center and the Clearbrook Center for the developmentally disabled in Arlington Heights.
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