<i>Brian’s Song</i> is not just a film about football, or the Chicago Bears. This is a film about the respect, friendship, and love that is demonstrated in teammates. It is about brotherhood. Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers are teammates on the Chicago Bears. In the racially charged 1960’s, a white Brian Piccolo and a black Gale Sayers are chosen as roommates. This is a rarity in itself for the climate of those times. The teammates become great friends, and their relationship is the basis for this great iconic film. The film is directed by Buzz Kulik. It stars the great James Caan as Brian Piccolo and the iconic Billy Dee Williams as Gale Sayers.
It is the late 1960’s. The Chicago Bears have a couple of running backs that they are evaluating for their Pro Football team. Gale Sayers is a highly talented running back that comes with high expectations and fanfare. Brian Piccolo is another talented running back that does not come with the same fanfare as Sayers. The film opens with the two teammates pranking each other with their coach and other teammates. Sayers begins to shine as one of the top players on the team, while Piccolo begins to struggle. The two are chosen to be roommates and begin to challenge each other to be better football players. They quickly become great friends. When Sayers injures his knee in a game against the San Francisco 49ers, it is Piccolo who brings in a weight machine to help with his recovery. Piccolo is thrusted into the starting running back role in Sayers stead. Piccolo becomes a valuable replacement of Sayers gaining 170 yds rushing against the Los Angeles Rams. Piccolo is granted the starting fullback job when Sayers returns from injury and they both excel together. Tragedy strikes as Piccolo begins to lose weight and his performance declines. Piccolo is diagnosed with Cancer and this news rocks Sayers to the core. Sayers stays loyal to his friend and his wife supporting them through this tough time, giving Piccolo a pint of his own blood when Piccolo was in critical condition. When Sayers is given the “George S. Halas Most Courageous Player Award.” Sayers dedicates his speech to Brian Piccolo. In an unforgettable moment, Sayers tells the crowd they had selected the wrong person for the award stating “I love Brian Piccolo, and I’d like all of you to love him, too. And tonight, when you hit your knees, please ask God to love him.” The film ends with a flashback of the two friends racing in a park years ago.
There is a reason why this film makes the “Top 5 Films that make Guy’s Cry” list. Seen through the eyes of Gale Sayers, the audience is shown how friendship, loyalty and love is colorblind. This film shows the bond that teammates share is everlasting. This is seen often in the film but can be summed up by Sayers talking about Piccolo to the audience during his acceptance speech. “He has a mental attitude that makes me proud to have a friend who spells out the word “Courage” 24 hours a day, every day of his life.” The scene of James Caan as Brian Piccolo in his hospital bed talking to Billy Dee Williams as Gale Sayers is one of the most memorable tear jerking scenes ever shown on film. I get choked up just thinking about it. The film concentrates on remembering how Brian Piccolo lived, rather than how he died. This is the ultimate lesson of the film that all of us can incorporate into our lives. This film is one of my favorites. I have seen it many times and have used scenes from it in corporate and personal life. It defines the human element and tells its story through the eyes of a “tough guy” in the backdrop of competitive professional team sports. Do not watch this movie without a box of tissues. I recommend this film for all audiences and give it a triumphant 4 out of 4 stars.