With the draft just two days away, Bears players honored Tuesday as winners of the Brian Piccolo Award, recalled their own draft day memories.
"I was at home," said cornerback Charles Tillman, who shared the veteran portion of the award with defensive end Julius Peppers. "We had a little barbecue in Texas, back in Copperas Cove.
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"It was a great feeling because it just really meant that a lot of the hard work had paid off, yet it was just starting. It was a very rewarding feeling to know that not going to those parties, not messing with the alcohol and things like that (paid off). You saw some of your teammates (go) down that path, and they ended up flunking out or they just quit school. But a few of us stayed on course with the path, and look, I'm in my 11th year, so hard work really does pay off."
That was in 2003, when Tillman was a second-round pick (35th overall) out of Louisiana-Lafayette.
For defensive end Shea McClellin, the winner of the rookie portion of the Piccolo Award, it was only a year ago that he was selected 19th overall out of Boise State.
"I have memories of just wanting it to be over," McClellin said. "By April, you just want to know where you're going. That's mostly what I remember. It was not clear at all (that he was going to the Bears). I knew it was a chance, and I'm glad they picked me."
Peppers didn't have to wait around very long on Draft Day 2002, since the Carolina Panthers took him second overall out of North Carolina.
"I had a pretty good idea where I was going to go," he said. "I didn't know for sure, (so) it was a lot of nerves just waiting around to see. Lot of anxiety but excited. A lot of different emotions all at the same time, but I was all right."
The Piccolo Award has been given to a Bears rookie since 1970 and was expanded in 1992 to include a veteran winner. Bears players vote for the rookie and veteran who best exemplify the courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication, and sense of humor of the late running back, whose Bears career was cut short after four years when he succumbed to embryonal cell carcinoma at age 26.
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