Dick Butkus, Chicago bears legend, passes away at the age of 80
Dick Butkus, a renowned middle linebacker in the Bears Hall of Fame who was born in Chicago and was still widely regarded as the most aggressive defensive player in NFL history, has gone away. He was 80.
The Butkus Family issued the following statement: “The Butkus Family confirms that football and entertainment legend Dick Butkus died peacefully in his sleep overnight at home in Malibu, California.
Butkus was “the ultimate Bear, and one of the greatest players in NFL history,” Chicago Bears chairman George H. McCaskey said.
Before a knee injury forced him to retire at age 31, Butkus was a first-team All-Pro five times and made the Pro Bowl in eight of his nine seasons. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979, his first year of eligibility, and was the epitome of the Monster of the Midway. He is still regarded as one of the league’s all-time defensive leaders.
Using his reputation as the toughest person in the room to his advantage, Butkus had a successful second career as a sportscaster, actor in films and television shows, and sought-after brand ambassador for everything from beer to antifreeze. Butkus typically resorted to acting himself, frequently disguising a softer side beneath his gruff persona, whether the script called for comedy or drama.
Butkus was born on December 9, 1942, in the Fernwood area of Chicago’s Far South Side to a Lithuanian American family.
According to Butkus’ website, by the time he was in the fifth grade, he already knew he wanted to play professional football.
From 1965 to 1973, Butkus spent all eight of his NFL seasons with the Bears and is now regarded as one of the team’s most beloved players. He was a talent, assertiveness, and hostile force that was unrelenting and terrifying.
Butkus played with the Bears for nine years during which time he was chosen for the first team All-Pro five times and the Pro Bowl eight times. His career stats include 22 interceptions, 27 fumble recoveries, one of which was returned for a score. With 49 career interceptions, Butkus is second in franchise history. He also occasionally kicked extra points and returned kickoffs.
Bill George, an NFL Hall of Famer who is credited with popularizing the position, left Butkus with the middle linebacker position. In 1954, George gave up his three-point defensive line posture and began each play farther out. From this distance, he could observe plays develop and then sprint for the ball.