OAN’s James Meyers
10:28 AM – Friday, October 6, 2023
Considered one of the greatest football players of all time, Hall of Famer and Chicago Bears linebacker Dick Butkus has died at the age of 80.
Butkus’ family confirmed his death, saying he died peacefully in his sleep overnight in Malibu, California, the Bears said in a statement.
“The Butkus family confirms that football and entertainment legend Dick Butkus died peacefully in his sleep overnight at home in Malibu, California,” a statement posted on X, formerly Twitter, said.
“The Butkus family is gathering with Dick’s wife Helen. They appreciate your prayers and support.”
Butkus is considered one of the best defensive players of all time, spending all nine seasons in the NFL from 1965-1973 with the Bears, earning a staggering five first-team All-Pro selections and eight Pro-Bowls.
Additionally, he was also named to the Hall of Fame All-1960’s and All-1970’s teams.
“Dick Butkus was a fierce and passionate competitor who helped define the linebacker position as one of the NFL’s all-time greats,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “Dick’s intuition, toughness and athleticism made him the model linebacker whose name will forever be linked to the position and the Chicago Bears.
“We also remember Dick as a long-time advocate for former players, and players at all levels of the game. The Dick Butkus Award and his foundation honored achievement on the field and service to the community among high school, college and NFL linebackers. Dick was a champion of clean sports as his ‘I Play Clean’ campaign helped raise awareness about the dangers of steroid use among high school athletes.
Butkus was the third overall pick of the 1965 NFL Draft out of the University of Illinois.
“I think Dick put the fear of God into a lot of people,” legendary Bears coach Mike Ditka said about Butkus.
“When I went out on the field to warm up, I would manufacture things to make me mad,” Butkus once said, per the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “If someone on the other team was laughing, I’d pretend he was laughing at me or the Bears. It always worked for me.”
“I felt my goal and my dream was in sight when I entered professional football. Finally, after eight years of preparation, my opportunity was before me,” Butkus said in his enshrinement speech at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979.
After retiring from the NFL in 1973, due to a significant knee injury, Butkus turned to acting. He appeared in multiple films including Cry,Onion!, Gus and The Longest Yard with Burt Reynolds.
Butkus made such an impact at the linebacker position they named an award after him called “The Butkus Award.” The award recognizes the top linebackers at high school, college and professional levels of football.
Stay informed! Receive breaking news blasts directly to your inbox for free. Subscribe here. https://www.oann.com/alerts