Dick Butkus, a renowned Hall of Fame middle linebacker for the Chicago Bears and a native of Chicago, has sadly passed away at the age of 80. The Butkus Family has confirmed his peaceful passing at his home in Malibu, California. Dick Butkus was celebrated not only for his football prowess but also for his philanthropic efforts, including his mission to combat performance-enhancing drugs in sports and promote heart health. He leaves behind his wife of 60 years, Helen, and their family.
George H. McCaskey, the chairman of the Bears, remembered Dick as the epitome of a Bear and one of the NFL’s greatest players. He highlighted Dick’s toughness, intelligence, instincts, passion, and leadership qualities, which mirrored the qualities sought by George Halas, the founder of the Bears. Despite Dick’s gruff exterior, he had a compassionate side and made significant contributions to the sport and the community.
Butkus was a local hero who rose from the South Side of Chicago, excelling at both Chicago Vocational High School and the University of Illinois before being drafted by the Bears in 1965. Throughout his eight-season NFL career, all with the Bears, he became one of the franchise’s most beloved players due to his intimidating and relentless playing style.
Opponents often referred to Dick Butkus as an “animal” and a “maniac” on the field, showcasing his unmatched aggression and ferocity. He was consistently named to the Pro Bowl and received numerous awards and honors, including two NFL Defensive Player of the Year Awards and induction into the Hall of Fame in 1979.
Butkus’s impact extended beyond his playing career. He was known for his remarkable ball skills, setting records for fumble recoveries and interceptions. He was celebrated as the second greatest player in Bears history, according to Hall of Fame writers Dan Pompei and Don Pierson.
In addition to his football career, Butkus pursued acting and appeared in numerous movies and TV shows. He also endorsed various products and appeared in commercials alongside other former athletes. His philanthropic work included establishing The Butkus Foundation, which introduced the Butkus Award to honor outstanding linebackers in football at all levels. He also founded the Dick Butkus Center for Cardiovascular Wellness, an organization dedicated to cardiac health, and initiated the “I Play Clean Campaign” to educate high school athletes about the dangers of illegal steroids and performance-enhancing substances.