According to CSN Chicago, DT Stephen Paea and LB Nick Roach have each won the prestigious Brian Piccolo Award, given annually to a Chicago Bears veteran and rookie who best embody the "courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication and sense of humor" that former Chicago Bears running back Brian Piccolo became known for in his four seasons with the Bears. Piccolo died in 1970 from embryonal cell carcinoma, but has been immortalized by the numerous cancer research foundations and funds in his name.
Paea and Roach both spoke with the media upon receiving their awards, remarking how honored they to be elected by their peers as Piccolo Award winners:
Roach, who joined the Bears as an undrafted free agent, felt a certain kinship with Piccolo -- who died on Roach's birthday:
"The story kind of hit me hard, thinking about who Brian Piccolo was, just a lot of the similarities. He was a free agent; I was a free agent coming into the league. He died when he was 26; I'm 26 now. And actually he died on June 16, which is my birthday...
"Any time you're in a team situation, whether it's an organization or actual sports, when your players, the guys that you're with, your peers, elect you to be something and represent something, I think that's a big deal. "I'm honored to receive this just because of the qualities, everything that [Piccolo] possessed because, again, he died at 26 and look at the impact that he's had going forward how many years from then."
Paea was also impressed by the life of Piccolo, remarking on the camaraderie between Piccolo and Bears great RB Gale Sayers that was featured in the movie Brian's Song. Paea said he felt the current Bears roster shared that kind of kinship and that it was a reason the Bears are "gonna win the Super Bowl this year."
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