"Brian Piccolo was something special to the Chicago Bears," Daniels said upon his acceptance speech. "I always thought that if I ever received some type of an award, this is the one that I would want. I hope that I can live up to his example and continue to do my best for this team."
Daniels battled through an injury plagued 2002 season, but produced his third consecutive solid campaign for the Bears. He led the defensive line in tackles with 64 stops and ranked second on the team in sacks with 5.5. Daniels began the season by making his 17th consecutive start at right end vs. Minnesota, but injured his left ankle in the first half and missed the next three games. Daniels was selected as the Bears Walter Payton "Man of the Year" nominee following the 2002 season in part for his contributions to nine different Chicagoland charitable organizations.
Bears defensive coordinator Greg Blache introduced Brown:
"I've always said that the really important thing in life is what you are able to leave behind," Blache said. "There is a young man here who, frankly, I didn't have very high expectations for when he joined the team last year. I'm glad to say that he proved me wrong. Alex Brown is a man who only leaves good things behind. He shines both in our organization, and in the rest of his life as well."
Brown, a fourth-round selection out of Florida in the 2002 NFL Draft, played in 15 games with nine starts last season for the Bears and was the team's leading rookie tackler with 49. He ranked fifth on the team in sacks with 2.5 which led all Bears rookies and he tied teammate and fellow rookie Bryan Knight for the team lead in fumble recoveries with three which ranked tied for fourth in the NFL among defensive players.
Like most in attendance, Brown had the team's favorite tenor on his mind.
"He was a great guy and somebody we all enjoyed seeing here at Halas Hall," Brown said of Ed McCaskey. "He always seemed to have a smile and a kind word for everyone he met. If you were really lucky, he'd sing you a song as well. To me, he, like Brian (Piccolo), embodies the spirit of this team. We will remember both of them with great respect and love."
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 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 Presbyterian-St. Luke's Hospital and the Clearbrook Center for the developmentally disabled in Rolling Meadows.
To Make Contributions or for more information, contact Joyce Walsh at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center at (312) 942-6894 or visit www.brianpiccolo.org