Pro Football Hall of Famer Dick Butkus dies at 80

The world of professional football today is looking back at his life and career Dick Butkus, Considered by many to be the prototype of the National Football League middle linebacker and the yardstick against which other players at the position are compared.

Butkus, who was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 1979 in his first year, died early Thursday at his home in Malibu, Calif., his family said. He is 80 years old.

“Chicago hometown hero Dick Butkus is considered by almost everyone to have defined the middle linebacker position,” Hall of Fame Chairman Jim Porter said. “He established a level of production and intensity that few could match. USA Today once called him “the gold standard by which other middle linebackers are measured.”

“In an era when middle linebacker became one of the game’s glamorous positions—several of Dick’s contemporaries would eventually make it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame—his name is most often cited first and foremost as the epitome of excellence at the highest level. “

hall of fame member jim brown, Butkus was not one to give praise lightly, and he agreed in his autobiography: “Butkus played in the 1960s and early 1970s, an era of great middle linebackers— (Ray) Nitschke, (Chuck) Bednarik, (Joe) Schmidt, Mike Curtis, (Sam) was furious, Lee Roy Jordan, Willie Lanier, Tommy Nobis – But I don’t think anyone did it better than Butkus. “

Butkus received numerous honors during and after his injury-shortened career: two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year (one with a team that went 1-13), NFL All-Decade Team of the 1960s and 1970s , NFL No. 75 Among them, the most noteworthy are the Anniversary Team and the NFL 100 All-Time Team.

He called being named to the NFL’s All-Time 100 Team a “very humbling experience.”

“Give 100 percent effort and good things will happen,” he added, “I look forward to Ray Nitschke,.When I play, I look up to Bill George. Both are standout Hall of Famers. “

“I’ve never seen anybody take it that easy,” said George, a 1974 Hall graduate who played middle linebacker for the Bears about a decade before Butkus arrived in Chicago. Dick showed up at camp That day, I knew I was out of a job. … No one looked that good before or after that.”

Richard Marvin Butkus was born on December 9, 1942 in Chicago. He excelled in multiple sports in high school and then attended the University of Illinois.

He is one of four players in school history to be a unanimous All-American in two seasons and led the Illini to the 1963 Big Ten Championship and a Rose Bowl victory over Washington .

Butkus was a three-time All-Big Ten selection, won the 1963 Silver Football Award, and finished third in the 1964 Heisman Trophy voting. In 1986, the University of Illinois retired his No. 50 jersey.

In 1999, he was named to the Walter Camp Football Foundation Team of the Century, established to honor the best college players of the 20th century.

Butkus is part of legendary draft

After a 5-9 record in 1964, the Bears received three picks in the first round of the 1965 NFL draft. They selected Butkus with the first overall pick.Hall of Fame Gail Sayers Chosen fourth, the two formed a lifelong friendship.

Butkus made an immediate impact in the NFL with five interceptions, seven fumble recoveries, six forced fumbles (unofficial), and was the first of five AP All-Pro first-team selections. and was invited to the Pro Bowl. He finished third in MVP voting; Sayers won the award.

“After practicing and scrimmaging with Gayle, I knew I could compete with anyone,” Butkus said.

Sayers felt the same way, but also felt the brunt of a couple of Butkus’ tackles.

“He hits you where it hurts — right in your heart,” Sayers said. “There was no one better than Dick Butkus.”

Players and coaches felt the same way throughout the game.

“His steals are devastating, his instincts are absolutely incredible, but what separates him from every other athlete I know is his great, tremendous intensity,” said Butkus’ coach at Illinois. , said Pete Elliott, who later served as executive director of professional football. Hall of Fame, said as he presented an offering to Butkus. “Dick played the way he was supposed to play: give it his all, every game, every practice. Dick Butkus was a yardstick, a yardstick for all types of linebackers. He was It is also a yardstick by which any athlete can measure the intensity of his or her personal efforts to achieve the goals Dick set.”

Longtime coach Howard Mudd told NFL Films: “I think the players who were great in his day were going to be great in any situation. Those were the great athletes who took over the game and made it happen as long as they were involved in the sport. took over the sport during that time. They took over the game and everybody knew who that player was. You could go to a Chicago Bears game and you’d remember Dick Butkus was there.”

Former center Ray Mansfield called Butkus “the greatest intimidator in the history of football,” and former running back Dan Reeves said, “He was so competitive. … He didn’t want you to get an inch better.” . Once you have that football, you are the enemy.”

“He doesn’t like anybody wearing a different color jersey,” Hall of Fame running back said Paul Hornung. “He follows you as much as he hates you from his old neighborhood.”

“He’s the most unique defensive player I’ve ever seen in pro football,” Hall of Fame receiver said Raymond Berry. “The first year he started playing, he started doing things to runners that no one had ever done before — tackle the ball with one arm and pull the ball out with the other arm.”

Bill Curry once called Butkus “the greatest football player I’ve ever seen.” I believe he is the greatest football player of all time. “

“He’s the Moby Dick in a goldfish bowl,” NFL Films said.

Butkus was unapologetic about his behavior on the field, insisting it was the switch at the end of the game.

“I can lose the ball, I can kick the ball, I can run the ball better than a lot of people. But the most important thing is the ease with which I play at centre-back,” he said in his autobiography, Flesh and Blood.

“If football is played the way I was taught, there’s no courtesy.”

Dick Butkus’ retirement

After football was over, Butkus was seen on the big screen and on television. His numerous acting credits include the films Necessary Roughness and Any Sunday as well as guest roles in My Two Dads, Vega$ and MacGyver, as well as several commercials for Miller Lite.

Important to Butkus is the work of the I Play Clean Movement, which promotes healthy lifestyles and the avoidance of performance-enhancing drugs, especially among young athletes.

“For me, now is the time to give back,” he said during an appearance to discuss the campaign’s efforts. “The game has been great to me and I don’t want to see the game ruined.”

His name adorns the Dick Butkus Center, now part of the Orange County Heart Institute and Research Center in California.

Each season, the nation’s top college linebacker receives the Butkus Award.

On October 31, 1994, the Bears retired his No. 51 jersey and Sayers’ No. 40 jersey in a ceremony at Soldier Field. Butkus was a regular on the sidelines at Soldier Field.

Butkus is survived by his wife, Helen, his high school sweetheart; Together they raised three children.


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