David Montgomery Captures Essence of Piccolo Award

Gene Chamberlain

David Montgomery went through a rookie season when he rarely could break free and his personality at times seemed as hidden as his running abilities.

On Tuesday, 50 years ago to the day Bears running back Brian Piccolo died of cancer, Montgomery sat in a car on his way to do passing drills with Mitchell Trubisky and did a conference call with media and members of the Piccolo foundation. His personality and intelligence suddenly emerged in much the way the Bears have to hope his running skills pop free this year.

After he was announced as the winner of the Piccolo Award, Montgomery accurately portrayed both what Piccolo was all about, and how Piccolo's message might be more relevant today than it ever has been.

Put in football terms, Montgomery took the ball and ran with it.

"I'm put in not a situation but in a great spot to where I can honor his name, you know, and it's amazing and it's humbling to know that me—little old me from Cincinnati, Ohio, a kid that struggled in impoverished situations and who didn't have everything and his family didn't have a lot of stuff—kinda just made it to happen," Montgomery said. "To have my name in the same sentence as Mr. Piccolo, I kind of sit back and reminisce over it.

"Because it’s definitely a great achievement that when I get to grow up and tell my kids that one of the greatest things to happen to me is going to be receiving this award."

Then Montgomery delivered the punch line much like a back breaking through at the goal line into the end zone.

It had to do with Gale Sayers, the Bears' Hall of Famer who had been helped through a terrible knee injury by his good friend Piccolo. Sayers then tried helping his friend in a time of need but couldn't.

Piccolo and Sayers were the first black and white roommates in an NFL camp.

"As you look into the stuff that's happening today and everyday situations, through the police brutality and the racial accusations all over, we kind of just got to look back and understand that there's good people out there," Montgomery said. "Two opposites can attract. Diversity is nothing but a mirrored thought or a mirrored image. There's nothing color-based. It shouldn't be controlled by the pigment of your skin.

"To be able to see that Mr Gale and Mr Piccolo were great roommates—and beyond that great friends and great human beings—is what I want to be able to tell my kids, that I was like that. And they taught me how to be that. And I was able to receive this award."

It was the kind of comment too large for an impromptu news conference from a car.

It was nearly as impactful as these words from Sayers after winning comeback player of the year during the days when Piccolo lay dying of cancer: "I love Brian Piccolo, and I'd like all of you to love him, too," Sayers told the audience. "Tonight, when you hit your knees to pray, please ask God to love him, too."

Montgomery has broken into the clear. Bears fans can't wait to see what it looks like now when he's carrying the ball in the open field.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven

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