Dick Butkus was an American football linebacker, sports commentator and actor.
He played football for the Chicago Bears of the National Football League from 1965 to 1973.
Butkus was born in Chicago and played his entire football career in his home state of Illinois, which began at Chicago Vocational High School.
He was a linebacker and a center for the Illinois Fighting Illini.
Butkus was a twice consensus All-American, and he led the Illini to a Rose Bowl victory in 1963 and was deemed the most valuable player in the Big Ten Conference:
He was named college football’s Lineman of the Year in 1964.
Butkus was invited to eight Pro Bowls, named a first-team All-Pro six times, and was twice recognized by his peers as the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year.
He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979, his first year eligible. After retiring in 1973, Butkus acted on television and in films.
Dick Butkus early life
Butkus was born on December 9, 1942, in the Fernwood neighborhood on Chicago’s south side to a blue-collar family of Lithuanian descent.
He was the youngest of nine children, and his father John was an electrician who worked for the Pullman-Standard railroad car manufacturing company, while his mother Emma worked at a laundry.
By the fifth grade, Butkus had already decided he was going to become a professional football player.
He attended Chicago Vocational High School, where he played both fullback and linebacker and was an all-state fullback on offense and downright nasty on defense.
Butkus rose in the ranks as a star football player and developed his skills to strip the ball and pulverize opposing players on the gridiron.
He went on to attend the University of Illinois, where he played middle linebacker and earned consensus All-America honors in 1963 and 1964, his senior season, when he also finished third in the voting for the Heisman Trophy.
Butkus led the Illini to a Rose Bowl victory in 1963 and was named college football’s Lineman of the Year in 1964.
After college, he was selected by the Chicago Bears in the first round of the NFL draft and signed with his hometown team.
Butkus played as the Bears’ middle linebacker for nine years and was the dominant defensive player of his era.
He was exceptionally large for a linebacker playing in the 1960s (6 feet 3 inches and 245 pounds) and had a reputation for relentless pursuit and ferocious tackling.
Butkus was a five-time first-team All-Pro selection and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979.
After retiring from football in 1973, he ventured into acting and appeared on television and in films.
Butkus also managed the Dick Butkus Football Network, a website, and did television commercials and small movie parts, often reflecting his ‘tough-guy’ persona.
Dick Butkus cause of death
Butkus passed away on October 5, 2023, at the age of 80.
According to a statement released by the team, Butkus’ family confirmed that he died peacefully in his sleep at his home in Malibu, California.
Unfortunately, at the time of publishing this article, the exact cause of his death has not been disclosed.
Dick Butkus career
Butkus played as a linebacker for the Chicago Bears of the National Football League (NFL) from 1965 to 1973.
He was invited to eight Pro Bowls, named a first-team All-Pro six times, and was twice recognized by his peers as the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year.
In his rookie season, Butkus had only one challenger for National Football League Rookie of the Year honors, teammate Gale Sayers.
That same year Butkus was named first-team All-NFL, an honor he would record five more times.
Butkus played in the Pro Bowl following his rookie season and in each of the next seven years.
He even figured in the career statistical columns with 22 interceptions and 27 opponents’ fumble recoveries.
In a career shortened by injuries, he accumulated 1,020 tackles, 22 interceptions, and 27 fumble recoveries, the last an NFL record for a defensive player at the time.
Butkus was elected into the Hall of Fame as a Player in 1979 and in 1994 was named to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Time Team.
After retiring in 1973, Butkus acted on television and in films.
Butkus remains a part of football history, present, and future and loves to share his stories and enthusiasm for the game.
From his charitable work with The Butkus® Foundation to honoring elite individuals with The Butkus Award®, Dick continues to give back.
Butkus was one of the greatest and most feared middle linebackers in NFL history, and he made eight Pro Bowls in his nine NFL seasons in the 1960s and 70s.
He was a vicious and punishing hitter who was an expert at forcing and recovering fumbles.