CHICAGO — On Wednesday, Chicago and the game of football lost a legend. Gale Sayers died at the age of 77.
Traci Piccolo Dolby, Brian Piccolo’s daughter, is 53 and lives in suburban Winnetka but back when her dad, No. 41, died, she was only 3. The year was 1970.
“When it comes to the Bears, family is always the first word that comes to mind for me,” Piccolo Dolby said
She said the relationship between Sayers and her dad is a unique one because they became Bears at the same time.
The two were total opposites. Sayers, No. 40 was an introvert, almost uncomfortably quiet, and Piccolo, No. 41 was anything but. Both were running backs and both were rookies.
Their friendship was documented in numerous books and in the 1971 made-for-TV movie “Brian’s Song.”
In 1970, Sayers received the George S. Halas Courage Award. He said he would accept it on this night, but it really belonged to his teammate Piccolo who would die from cancer a short time later at the age of 26 — leaving behind a wife and three young daughters.
Piccolo Dolby wants Sayers to be remembered for two things: His explosive play on the field that broke records still standing even today. But there was something else, too. Their story, that movie, and that music.
Julie Unruh has more on the life of the Chicago Bear great, seen through the eyes of one of Brian Piccolo’s daughters.