Bears players wear No. 41 to honor Brian Piccolo

On the 52nd anniversary of Brian Piccolo’s death from cancer, every Bears player wore his No. 41 uniform number at practice Thursday.

Chairman George McCaskey wore a navy throwback No. 41 jersey, too, while he stood and chatted with members of the former running back’s family at Halas Hall.

“It was a special day,” head coach Matt Eberflus said.

Piccolo, whose relationship with Gale Sayers became the basis of the movie “Brian’s Song,” died at 26 in 1970. The Bears had planned to do the tribute for the 50th anniversary of his death two years ago, but the coronavirus scuttled offseason practices.

The Bears talked about Piccolo, who played from 1966-69, in their team meeting before practice.

Rookie receiver Velus Jones said Piccolo’s relationship with Sayers, who was African-American, was ground-breaking.

“Even when you’re gone, you’re legacy lives on,” Jones said.

Each year, the Bears issued the Brian Piccolo Award to two players — a rookie and a veteran — who best personify Piccolo’s attributes. Defensive end Robert Quinn, who has not been in attendance during mandatory minicamp, and rookie running back Khalil Herbert won the awards in April.

The Bears broke for the summer at the end of Thursday’s mandatory minicamp practice. They will return for training camp July 27.

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