Coming off not only one of the best seasons for a Bears rookie defensive back but also a smooth settling in on the cadence of NFL life, cornerback Kyle Fuller has been selected as the Bears’ 2015 Brian Piccolo Award winner.
Matt Forte, who won the rookie award in 2008, joined a handful of players (Mike Singletary, Shaun Gayle, Brian Urlacher, Charles Tillman, Olin Kreutz) to win the award as both rookie and vet. Forte did not attend the presentation ceremony and appears headed for a holdout, at least from voluntary activities, intended to create leverage for an early contract extension.
The awards reflect teammates’ assessments of loyalty, courage, sense of humor and dedication.
Coach John Fox recalled watching “Brian’s Song” as a teenager when the movie first came out. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said that the Piccolo story “grabbed the country.”
On the field Fuller tied with safety Ryan Mundy for team honors and led all NFL rookies with 4 interceptions, with Fuller also contributing 3 forced fumbles. Fuller was one of only two NFL players (Detroit safety James Ihedigbo) last season and one of only six rookies in the last 25 NFL seasons with at least three each of interceptions and forced fumbles.
“None of this would have been possible alone,” Fuller said, giving thanks to God, family, the Bears organization and teammates for his successes. The award reflects courage, hard work and other traits, “and these were things I worked hard at growing up,” Fuller said.
Forte, in the process of seeking a contract extension going into this last season of his 2012 four-year deal, set an NFL record for running backs with 102 pass receptions (for 808 yards) last season to go with 1,038 rushing yards. His 1,846 combined yards were eighth-highest in franchise history, behind six seasons of Walter Payton and Forte’s own 2013 total of 1,933 yards.
“Growing up as a Bears fan, I know what this means to this [McCaskey] family,” said Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase, who did the Forte award presentation. “Matt being a second-time award winner, winning as a rookie, we’re looking forward to working with him.”