NFL Legend Dick Butkus Passes Away

Dick Butkus, a legendary figure in the National Football League (NFL) and one of the most formidable players in the history of the sport, has passed away at the age of 80. The news of his demise was confirmed by his family in a statement released by the Bears on Thursday. Butkus, who was a native of Chicago, passed away peacefully in his sleep at his home in Malibu, California.

Butkus was a two-time All-American at the University of Illinois and had an illustrious career in the NFL. He was an eight-time Pro Bowler and a five-time All-Pro, and is widely recognized as one of the greatest linebackers in the history of the sport. His contributions to the game were instrumental in revolutionizing the linebacker position.

Bears chairman George McCaskey paid tribute to Butkus, describing him as the “ultimate Bear” and one of the greatest players in NFL history. McCaskey praised Butkus for embodying the spirit of Chicago and the qualities that George Halas, the founder of the Bears, sought in a player. These included toughness, intelligence, instinct, passion, and leadership.

Despite his gruff exterior, Butkus was known for his philanthropic efforts, which included campaigns against performance-enhancing drugs in sports and promoting heart health. Despite his career being cut short to nine seasons due to knee problems, Butkus’ record of 27 fumble recoveries still stands as a Bears franchise record.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell also paid tribute to Butkus, describing him as a fierce and passionate competitor who helped define the linebacker position. Goodell praised Butkus’ intuition, toughness, and athleticism, stating that his name will forever be associated with the position and the Chicago Bears.

Butkus, a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979. His iconic No. 51 was retired in 1994. After his playing career, Butkus had a successful career as an actor, appearing in numerous films and TV shows. He also worked as a pitchman for various products and served as an NFL studio analyst for CBS Sports.

Butkus is survived by his wife, Helen, and their three adult children: Ricky, Matt, and Nikki.