Dick Butkus was a Pro Football Hall of Fame hardline linebacker who starred for his hometown Chicago Bears before becoming popular for his outgoing personality in television and film performances. Now passed away at the age of 80. declare Thursday.
The Bears wrote in a statement from Butkus’ family posted on social media that Butkus “passed away peacefully in his sleep overnight” at his home in Malibu, California.
“The Butkus family is gathering with Dick’s wife, Helen. They appreciate your prayers and support,” the family’s statement read.
Chicago Bears president George H. McCaskey said Butkus was “the ultimate Bear and one of the greatest players in NFL history.”
“He’s a son of Chicago,” McCaskey said. “His contributions to the game he loved will live on forever and we are grateful he was able to attend our home opener this year and be celebrated one last time by his many fans.”
News of Butkus’ death broke more than an hour before the Bears’ Thursday night game against the Washington Commanders.teams and fans moment of silence before the game at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland.
A ferocious tackle drafted out of the University of Illinois, Butkus was an impressive force as a middle linebacker for the Bears during nine NFL seasons in the 1960s and 1970s, and Made it to the Pro Bowl eight times.
Nichols says that’s why Butkus represents so much in Chicago
According to an article on the Bears website, Butkus believes his intensity on the field is how the game should be played.
According to the article, when asked about his ferocity, he said: “I think that’s the way everyone should play, but I guess they don’t because they claim I have a special way of playing.”
He retired at age 31 after the 1973 season, suffered a serious knee injury a few years later and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979, his first year of eligibility. In 1983, Butkus was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
In 1985, the Butkus Award was established and awarded to the top linebacker at the professional, college and high school levels.
The Bears retired Butkus’ No. 51 in 1994. Butkus was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team (as selected by the Hall of Fame Committee) throughout his decades of playing and was selected to the NFL’s 75th and 100th Anniversary All-Pro teams.
Butkus finished his career with 1,020 tackles and 22 interceptions, according to ESPN.
After retiring from the Bears, Butkus branched out into acting and made a statement, appearing in dozens of TV shows and movies, many alongside former NFL defensive players. Bubba Smith, according to the Bears website.
The former athlete has had roles on shows like “MacGyver,” “Hang Time,” “Half Nelson,” “Blue Thunder” and “My Two Dads.” Butkus starred alongside Smith in a series of Miller Lite commercials and appeared on screen in films such as “Any Give Sunday,” “The Longest Yard” and “Necessary Roughness.”
Butkus also served as the Bears’ radio announcer for several years and was a panelist on CBS’ “NFL Today” pregame show.
Richard Marvin “Dick” Butkus is a Chicago native who was born on December 9, 1942, in Fern, on the city’s South Side, according to a biography on his website Fernwood community.
Butkus was the youngest of nine children and came from a working-class family of Lithuanian descent.
The biography states that he began envisioning his future as a professional football player in fifth grade.
“I strive to be one of those guys, as society says,” according to Butkus’ website. “It says you have to be fierce. I’m fierce. Tough.”
According to the Bears website, the athlete showcased his football skills at Chicago Vocational High School and the University of Illinois before being selected third overall in the 1965 NFL Draft.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell called Butkus “a ferocious and passionate competitor.” Thursday.
“Dick’s instincts, toughness and athleticism made him an exemplary linebacker and his name will forever be associated with the position and the Chicago Bears organization,” Goodell said.