During his rookie season, Bears offensive tackle J'Marcus Webb did more listening than talking, endearing himself to his teammates and coaches.
But on Tuesday, Webb delivered a thoughtful and reverent speech in accepting the Brian Piccolo award at Halas Hall.
"I stand here humbled by the Brian Piccolo Award," Webb said quietly. "This award embodies the ideals of what a Chicago Bears player should strive to be. I'm not sure I'll be able to measure up to such a man. But I certainly do promise to inspire others through my hard work and dedication."
Webb, in fact, reached out to Piccolo's widow, Joy, the first time any player has ever done that. The award is named in honor of Brian Piccolo, who died from embryonal cell carcinoma in 1970 at the age of 26, and is given to a player who exemplifies courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication and a sense of humor.
"That may have been the best speech by a player I have ever heard, for the Piccolo award," Bears president Ted Phillips said. "He did a great job. It obviously meant a lot to him."
Defensive tackle Anthony Adams was voted the veteran winner by his teammates. He distinguished himself because he plays the unglamorous position of nose tackle.
"You're going to get double-teamed, and your primary job is to stay in the crack and occupy a couple of guys, to allow the Brian Urlachers to be themselves," Bears coach Lovie Smith said of Adams' job. "Anthony is an unselfish player."
Added defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, "I mean this with all due respect: He's an overachiever.
"That means you're striving to be better, every single day."
A free agent, Adams sure sounded like a player who wants to come back to the Bears.
"It was a great experience this year. We were one game away," he said. "I'm sorry I'm talking about Green Bay, but I just hate having this bad taste in my mouth."
Adams then said he "can't wait" to play the Packers next season.
As for Webb, he rose from seventh-round pick into a fixture at right tackle.
"[Webb] easily made the most progress of any player I've witnessed in my time in the NFL," Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz said. "From where he began as a starter and where he finished is truly remarkable."
Webb is anxious to get back to work.
"It drives me insane. I'm trying to get healthy, eat right and do my job. And right now, we're stuck at home, working out and watching cartoons all day," he said. "What's up with that? I want to get back to what I do best."