LAKE FOREST – While there are many honors given from outside the organization that certainly carry weight, there is one award given by the Bears that has special meaning to the organization.
The Brian Piccolo Award, named in honor of the running back who died of embryonal cell carcinoma in 1970, is one which the organization has taken great pride in awarding since his passing.
On Tuesday, two more players got the chance to receive the honor, which salutes the courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication, and sense of humor which were characteristics of Piccolo during his time in Chicago.
Wide receiver Allen Robinson won the veteran’s award while fellow receiver Darnell Mooney was named the rookie recipient of the honor.
Robinson has been with the Bears the last three seasons and has been a steady force in what’s been a tumulous stretch for the offense. Despite changes in quarterbacks, coaches, and personnel, Robinson has caught 200 total passes the last two seasons, including his first 100-catch campaign in 2020 (102). In that stretch, he’s gained 2,397 yards while scoring 13 touchdowns.
Winning the honor was especially important to Robinson because of Piccolo’s friendship with Gale Sayers, something which he learned more about over the past year.
“Just talking to some of my peers within the organization who have grown to hear more and more stories about Brian Piccolo and the kind of relationship he had with his teammates, specifically with Gale Sayers,” said Robinson. “That right there is a relationship to me that really stuck out because, like I said before, looking at the history of our country over time and dating way back when to having, like I said before, two guys who were interracial roommates when it came training camp and stuff like that. Guys being able to put their differences aside.
“That’s the true testament to the impact that football can have on people, and the impact that we as players can have on others.”
After not reaching an agreement for a long-term deal during the 2020 season and this offseason, Robinson is currently on the team’s franchise tag for 2021.
A fifth-round selection in last year’s draft, Mooney was a steady contributor and starter in his first season in the NFL. Playing in all 16 regular season games while starting nine, Mooney caught 61 passes for 631 yards and four touchdowns.