The Chicago Bears confirmed the passing of Hall of Famer and legendary linebacker Dick Butkus at the age of 80. The Butkus family shared that he passed away peacefully in his sleep at his Malibu, California home. The family, joined by Dick’s wife Helen, expressed gratitude for the thoughts and prayers from well-wishers.
Butkus, an iconic figure in football history, spent his entire nine-season NFL career from 1965 to 1973 with the Bears. Renowned for his tenacity and skill, he secured eight Pro Bowl selections and earned five first-team All-Pro distinctions. His contributions were recognized not only during his playing years but also with his inclusion in the Hall of Fame All-1960s and All-1970s teams.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell paid tribute, highlighting Butkus’s impact on the linebacker position and the Chicago Bears. He also acknowledged Butkus’s advocacy for former players and his efforts against steroid use through the ‘I Play Clean’ campaign.
Known as “The Enforcer,” Butkus, drafted third overall in the 1965 NFL Draft from the University of Illinois, stood out as a dominant force on the field. At 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds, he struck fear into opponents, embodying the spirit of Chicago football. His career was unfortunately cut short by a severe knee injury in 1970, leading to his retirement in 1973. In 1979, he received the ultimate recognition with his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Post-retirement, Butkus ventured into acting, featuring in films like “Cry Onion!,” “Gus,” and the beloved “The Longest Yard” alongside Burt Reynolds. He later returned to Soldier Field in a broadcasting role, serving as a color analyst for radio broadcasts in 1985 before joining CBS’s pregame show, “The NFL Today,” from 1988 to 1989.
Butkus’s legacy lives on in the retirement of his No. 51 jersey by the Bears, symbolizing his enduring impact on the team and the sport. The football community, as well as fans and admirers, mourn the loss of a true gridiron legend.