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Pro Football Hall Of Famer, Dick Butkus Dies At 80


The Chicago Bears confirmed Thursday that linebacker Dick Butkus, a hard-hitting member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame who played for his hometown team before becoming well-known for his exuberant personality in acting roles on television and in movies, had passed away at the age of 80.

According to a message from his family published by the Bears on social media, Butkus passed away “peacefully in his sleep overnight at home in Malibu,” California.

“The Butkus family is gathering with Dick’s wife, Helen. They appreciate your prayers and support,” the family’s statement reads.

Butkus was “the ultimate Bear, and one of the greatest players in NFL history,” Chicago Bears chairman George H. McCaskey said.

“He was Chicago’s son,” McCaskey said. “His contributions to the game he loved will live forever and we are grateful he was able to be at our home opener this year to be celebrated one last time by his many fans.”

More than an hour before the Bears’ Thursday night game against the Washington Commanders began, word of Butkus’ passing circulated. Before the game at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, the teams and spectators observed a moment of silence.

Butkus, an imposing middle linebacker for the Bears during his nine NFL seasons in the 1960s and 1970s, was a fierce tackler who was selected out of the University of Illinois. He was also a member of eight Pro Bowls.

According to a piece on the Bears’ website, Butkus believed that his enthusiasm on the field was simply the proper way to play the game.

After playing for a portion of the 1973 season and retiring at age 31, a few years after sustaining a devastating knee injury, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979, the first year he was eligible. In 1983, Butkus was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

The Butkus Award, which recognizes the best linebacker at the professional, collegiate, and high school levels, was established in 1985.

In 1994, the Bears retired Butkus’ No. 51 uniform. For both of the decades he played, Butkus was picked by a Hall of Fame committee for the NFL All-Decade Teams. He was also elected to the NFL’s 75th and 100th Anniversary All-Time Teams.

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