||This article needs additional citations for verification. (June 2012)|
|Date of birth:||October 31, 1943|
|Place of birth:||Pittsfield, Massachusetts, U.S.|
|Date of death:||June 16, 1970(aged 26)|
|Height:||6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)|
|Weight:||206 lb (93 kg)|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Retired #s:||Chicago Bears #41|
|Playing stats at|
Louis Brian Piccolo (October 31, 1943 – June 16, 1970) was a professional football player for the Chicago Bears for four years. He died from embryonal cell carcinoma, an aggressive form of germ cell testicular cancer, first diagnosed after it had spread to his chest cavity. He was the subject of the 1971 TV movie Brian's Song, with a remake (of the same title) TV movie filmed in 2001. Piccolo was portrayed in the original film by James Caan and by Sean Maher in the 2001 remake.
Early life 
Brian Piccolo was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, the youngest of three sons to Joseph and Irene Piccolo. The family moved south to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, when Piccolo was 12, due to his parents' concerns for his brother Don's health. Piccolo and his brothers were athletes, and he was a star running back on his high school football team although he considered baseball his primary sport. He graduated from the former Central Catholic High School (now St. Thomas Aquinas High School) in Fort Lauderdale in 1961.
Piccolo played college football at Wake Forest; his only other scholarship offer was from Wichita State. He led the nation in rushing and scoring during his senior season in 1964 and was named the ACC Player of the Year, yet went unselected in the 1965 NFL Draft.
In 1963, Darryl Hill of the University of Maryland was the first and only African-American football player in the Atlantic Coast Conference. According to Lee Corso, a Maryland assistant coach at that time, Wake Forest had "the worst atmosphere" of any campus the Maryland football team visited. Piccolo went over to the Maryland bench, walked Hill over to the area in front of the student section and put his arm around him, silencing the crowd.
Following his spectacular senior season Piccolo married his high school sweetheart, Joy Murrath, on December 26, 1964. They had three daughters: Lori, Traci and Kristi.
NFL career 
Because he was not selected in the 1965 NFL Draft, Piccolo tried out for the Chicago Bears as a free agent. He made the team for the 1965 season, but only on the taxi squad (better known today as the practice squad), meaning he could practice but not suit up for games. In 1966, he made the main roster but his playing time was primarily restricted to special teams. In 1967, he got more playing time backing up superstar starting tailback Gale Sayers, and in 1969 was moved up to starting fullback, with Sayers still the tailback.
Players at that time were still segregated by race for hotel-room assignments. At the suggestion of the Bears' captain, the policy was changed and each player was reassigned by position, so that wide receivers would room together, quarterbacks would room together, etc. Running back was the only position on the 1969 Bears with one black and one white player, Sayers and Piccolo respectively.
Death and legacy 
In 1969, the Bears were in the midst of a 1-13 season, the worst record in their history. Piccolo had finally earned a place in the starting lineup as an undersized fullback. During the ninth game in Atlanta on November 16, he voluntarily removed himself from the game, something he had never done, raising great concern among his teammates and coaches. Breathing on the field had become extremely difficult for him, so when the team returned to Chicago he was promptly sent for a medical examination and diagnosed with embryonal cell carcinoma.
Soon after initial surgery at Sloan-Kettering in New York City to remove the tumor, Brian underwent a second procedure in April 1970 to remove his left lung and pectoral muscle. Bothered by chest pain afterward, he was re-admitted to the hospital in early June and doctors determined the cancer had spread to other organs, most notably his liver. He died on June 16, 1970, at the age of 26. The month before his death, while accepting the George S. Halas Award for Most Courageous Player, Sayers told the crowd that they had selected the wrong person for the award and said, "I love Brian Piccolo, and I'd like all of you to love him, too. Tonight, when you hit your knees to pray, please ask God to love him, too."
- In 1972, Brian Piccolo Middle School 53 opened in Queens, New York on Nameoke Street in Far Rockaway. The school name was chosen by students after the first airing of Brian's Song. The football jersey that belonged to Brian Piccolo that was displayed in the lobby has been missing since they renovated the school in the late 1990's.
- In 1980, students at Wake Forest, Piccolo's alma mater, began the Brian Piccolo Cancer Fund Drive in his memory. They raised money for the Comprehensive Cancer Center at the Bowman Gray Medical Center of Wake Forest University. In addition, the Brian Piccolo Student Volunteer Program was established to provide undergraduates with an opportunity to work at the Cancer Center as volunteers. A dorm at Wake Forest University is also named in his honor.
- In memory of Piccolo's accomplishments, the St. Thomas Aquinas High School football stadium in Fort Lauderdale is named after him. At the end of every football game, the school's marching band plays "The Hands of Time", the theme from Brian's Song.
- Brian Piccolo Park in the Fort Lauderdale suburb of Cooper City, Florida, is named after Piccolo.
- Comcast SportsNet profiled Piccolo's legacy and the lasting impression he left in the June 2007 episode of 'net Impact.
- Each season since 1972, the Atlantic Coast Conference has awarded the Brian Piccolo Award to the conference's "Most Courageous Player". In 2007, the recipient was Matt Robinson of Wake Forest, the fourth player from Piccolo's alma mater to be given the award. Since 1970, the Chicago Bears have also handed out an award by the same name to a rookie and (since 1992) a veteran who "best exemplifies the courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication and sense of humor" of Piccolo. The winners are chosen by the Bears' veteran players. Nick Roach and Stephen Paea were the recipients of the Award in 2012.
- An Italian-American organization, UNICO (an acronym for Unity, Neighborliness, Integrity, Charity, and Opportunity), honors his memory each year by awarding the Brian Piccolo Award to courageous and outstanding athletes of Italian-American heritage. In 2009 Brian's brother Don attended his first UNICO award ceremony in Rivervale, New Jersey, where he delivered a speech.
Brian's Song 
The film Brian's Song, loosely based on Gale Sayers' autobiography, tells the story of the friendship between Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers and their time during football with the Chicago Bears up until Brian Piccolo's death. It first aired on ABC in 1971, starring James Caan as Brian Piccolo and Billy Dee Williams as Gale Sayers, and was such a success on television that it was later shown in theaters. A remake was filmed in 2001 for ABC's The Wonderful World of Disney starring Mekhi Phifer and Sean Maher.
Piccolo's biography, Brian Piccolo: A Short Season, was written by Jeanne Morris (the wife of Chicago Bear teammate Johnny Morris) and featured passages written by Piccolo himself for a planned autobiography.
- Brian Piccolo biography at Bears History
- Brian's life a Song of friendship, courage - Brian Piccolo biography at ESPN.com
- Database Football.com - Brian Piccolo
- Pro Football Reference.com - Brian Piccolo
- Brian Piccolo at Find a Grave