In its fifth decade, the Piccolo Award — named for running back Brian Piccolo, who lost his battle with cancer in 1970 — still remains one of the most prestigious honors within the Bears organization. On Tuesday the awards — one for a rookie and one for a veteran judged by teammates to best exemplify courage, loyalty, dedication and sense of humor in the Brian Piccolo tradition — were presented to tight end Zach Miller and rookie safety Adrian Amos.
“I’m grateful for this award because it’s voted on by my teammates,” said Amos, a 2015 fifth-round draft pick who started all 16 games and led the Bears with 108 tackles. Amos gave special thanks to “my mother and father, who were always there when things didn’t go right, and there to congratulate me when they did.”
For Miller, the 2015 season was a redemption of sorts, playing 15 games after sitting out from early 2011 through last season because of a discouraging run of injuries. His thanks included the Bears’ organization for taking a chance on him after his lost years.
“They gave me a chance to revitalize my career,” said Miller, who led the Bears with five receiving touchdowns from his 34 receptions, topped by an 87-yard catch-and-run against the then-St. Louis Rams, the longest TD catch by a tight end last season.
“Being out of the league for those couple of years,” Miller said, “I’m just blessed to be here.”
Some of that “blessed” was reciprocal, with the Bears benefitting from having a second option when Martellus Bennett had in-season issues with his role in the offense. The Bears were in search of a second tight end before last season when tight ends coach Frank Smith told the staff, “We already have a second tight end,” which was Miller’s opportunity.