The Bears on Tuesday announced that linebacker Jack Sanborn and running back David Montgomery were this year’s Brian Piccolo Award winners.
Since 1970, the award has been given out to a rookie and in 1992 the Bears included a veteran.
With David Montgomery now on the Detroit Lions, running backs coach David Walker went up to the podium to share some words on the former Bears running back.
Walker recalled one of his first conversations he had with Montgomery. He wanted to find out if Montgomery was just a guy who played in the NFL or if he was a professional football player. Someone who simply played in the NFL did the bare minimum whereas a professional is someone who inspires his teammates, shows up early and leaves late.
Walker quickly learned Montgomery was the latter, especially when Montgomery would beat his coach to meetings.
“His competitiveness to be the best version of himself every day was on display every day he walked in these halls,” Walker said. “Although his time has ended, I think his impact in this building, in this community will be felt for a long time.”
As an undrafted free agent, Sanborn made the most of his opportunity after Roquan Smith was traded to the Baltimore Ravens. He started his first game against the Dolphins in Week 9 and finished with seven solo tackles. The former Wisconsin Badger ended his rookie season with 64 total tackles, two sacks and one fumble recovery.
Defensive coordinator Alan Williams introduced Sanborn prior to the linebacker speaking about his award, and Williams started his speech by highlighting the type of man that Sanborn is. Last season, Williams went around and asked people within the Bears organization about the linebacker.
Some of the words that came up were “Consistency,” “Dedicated,” “Inspiring” and “Courage.”
Those qualities along with his play on the field helped Sanborn to become one of the encouraging points for Williams’ defense.
“It’s definitely a little rewarding but at the same time I’m well aware of the world we live in and everything,” Sanborn said. “You gotta always prove it. It’s a business where you’re just as good as your last game. You gotta always work harder, gotta always improve and gotta always be that good teammate, that teammate in the locker room, and help this team win. Because that’s the main goal at the end of the day.”
With the free-agent signings of T.J. Edwards and Tremaine Edmunds, Sanborn’s playing time will have to take a step back in 2023. He will also have to likely transition to the strong side linebacker position.
Sanborn did mention the position comes with some “different things” he will have to adjust to, but his mentality will remain the same regardless of the change.
“But at the end of the day, you’re still playing linebacker,” Sanborn said. “The same job is still there, get the ball, tackle the ball and create turnovers. That’s what it’s about. That’s what this defense is about and what we’re striving to do more and more of. I think it’s very exciting and I think everyone is excited to be a part of it moving forward.”