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Chicago Bears announce Piccolo Award winners, Matt Forte skips the event

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Every year since 1970 the Chicago Bears have awarded a rookie the Brian Piccolo Award and in 1992 the team added a veteran recipient. The award is special for the players because it's only voted on by them. The players "select a teammate they feel best exemplifies the courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication and sense of humor of the late Brian Piccolo."

The 2015 rookie winner was cornerback Kyle Fuller and the veteran winner was running back Matt Forte.

Forte elected to skip the event because he has chosen to not participate in the voluntary off season workout program for the Bears. It has been reported that the 29 year old Forte is seeking a contract extension.

The first minicamp practice of Phase 2 begins this afternoon and Forte also skipped all of Phase 1 which took place the last two weeks.

Forte was aware of the honor and he prepared a statement that was read by the Bears' senior director of special projects, Patrick McCaskey.

"I'd like to accept the Piccolo award with the utmost respect and humility," Forte wrote. "Thank you to all my teammates that thought I was so deserving of this award that they voted for me. It is an honor to be selected as this year's winner, but as you may know, success doesn't come solely on one's shoulders. So with that being said, I'd like to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for the help, strength and many blessings that he's given me. And last but not least, thank you to my teammates for helping in my success on and off the field. God Bless and Bear down."

Chicago offensive coordinator Adam Gase presented the veteran award to the absent Forte and he praised the player he hopes to be working with.

From the Chicago Sun Times:

"Growing up as a Bears fan, I know what this means to this [McCaskey] family. Matt being a second-time award winner, winning as a rookie, we're looking forward to working with him. I know his production in his career and his personality has been outstanding here with the Bears. And I know this staff is really anxious to get him back in the building."

"Coming to this organization and seeing what this guy has done over his career is amazing."

"Matt's reputation around the league, and this is coaches, personnel guys, other players talking about him, is held in the highest regard. He's a dominant player, but he's a dynamic worker and a great teammate. And that's spread around the league; everybody knows that."

Bears' chairman George McCaskey also took the high road in his remarks about Forte.

"That's a decision that Matt's got to make. I thought Adam said it very well. His production has been fantastic. He's a valuable part of the organization and we're looking forward to getting him in here."

"That's an intensely personal decision, and I think that decision should be respected,"

The Chicago Bears hold a mandatory minicamp from June 16-18, so if Forte skips that, we'll know just how serious his demands are for a new contract.

Chicago defensive coordinator Vic Fangio presented the Brian Piccolo Award to rookie Kyle Fuller. Fangio remarked that he scouted Fuller a lot in hopes he would be drafted to the 49ers last off season.

For as much as Fangio was hoping to work with Fuller, Fuller is just as excited to work with Fangio. Fuller was asked his first impression of his new defensive coordinator.

From the Chicago Tribune:

"I like him a lot. He's done a great job throughout his career. I'm really looking forward to working with him."

He was also asked about Fangio's plan for Chicago's corners.

"We've been here for a couple weeks, so we have an idea of what he likes to do. I feel like we have the guys that fit what he wants to do with us."

George McCaskey also had high praise for Fuller, "You could tell from the moment he walked in the door ... he was going to be a great Bear."

What are your thoughts on the two award winners and on Forte skipping the event?