Remembering Chicago Bear Brian Piccolo, 50 years after his death

Tuesday marked 50 years since Chicago Bears running back Brian Piccolo died from cancer.

A car parade in his honor made its way through the Beverly neighborhood where Piccolo once lived with his wife and three daughters.

Piccolo, who was born in Massachusetts, and was raised in Florida, only spent a few short years in Beverly.

"I think he just embraced this community and we embraced him," said Mary Jo Viero of the Beverly Area Planning Association. "I know I was a very little girl at the time, but every single person that I talked to that was older at the time, they all have stories."

Signed to the Chicago Bears as a free agent right out of college, Piccolo spent four seasons with the team, always, unfortunately for his career, in Gale Sayers shadow, and yet, they became roommates. They were the first white and first black men in the NFL to do so.

Their friendship was one that challenged the racial boundaries of the 1960s immortalized in "Brian's Song" a made-for-TV movie that also recounted Piccolo's last days before passing away from cancer at just 26-years-old.

"That's one of the things about Coach Halas," said Piccolo's daughter Traci. "He really was ahead of his time, he wanted to show the world that not only could white and black men work together, they could live together in harmony and what he did with my dad and Gayle was truly an amazing thing."

"Gale was as shy as Brian was outgoing," recalled Piccolo's wife Joy. "I'm sure Brian annoyed him a lot, but they grew to have a lot of respect for each other."
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