Two Chicago Bears won the Piccolo Award today, but one of them was a no-show.
Kyle Fuller took the rookie award. Matt Forte was awarded the veteran title, but he did not attend the ceremony Tuesday. Furthermore, Forte will not take part in the Bears voluntary workouts, including this week's minicamp. He did send a letter thanking the McCaskey family and his teammates for his successes, however.
The workouts are voluntary, but many thought Forte would take part to impress his new coaches and earn a contract extension. Forte spoke out on Instagram, saying his decision not to attend minicamp or the Piccolo ceremony had nothing to do with the contract. Instead, he said he is finishing rigorous speed training that is not offered at Halas Hall, which had been planned since the season ended.
The Piccolo Award is given to two Bears players each year selected by their teammates -- one rookie and one veteran. The award is named in the honor of the late Bears player Brian Piccolo, and it is awarded to players who best exemplify Piccolo's courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication and sense of humor.
"Matt's reputation around the league -- and this is coaches, personnel guys, other players talking about him -- it's held in the highest regard," Adam Gase, the offensive coordinator for the Bears, said. "He's a dominant player. But he's a dynamic worker and a great teammate and that spread around the league. Everybody knows that.
Although Forte didn't make it to the ceremony, Fuller accepted his rookie award in person.
"It motivates you a lot. Every time we talk about the type of team in the past that Chicago is, you have to live up to that," Fuller said. "It motivates the team to live up to that."
As for Forte not showing up, his teammates and coaches took it in stride.
"It's a personal decision, it's up to Matt. That decision should be respected," Chairman George McCaskey said. "We'd like to get Matt here for practice, but we know Matt takes very good care of himself."