Dick Butkus, the iconic Chicago Bears linebacker, passed away at 80, according to a statement released by his family.
The football legend “died peacefully” at his home in Malibu, California, leaving behind a legacy that will forever be etched in NFL history.
The Butkus family expressed their gratitude for the outpouring of support, stating, “The Butkus family is gathering with Dick’s wife Helen. They appreciate your prayers and support.”
The news of his passing has resonated deeply with football enthusiasts and the sports community.
Bears chairman George McCaskey paid tribute to Butkus, describing him as “one of the greatest players in NFL history” known for his toughness, intelligence, instincts, passion, and leadership.
McCaskey also highlighted Butkus’s philanthropic endeavors, which included a mission to combat performance-enhancing drugs in sports and promote heart health.
In his statement, McCaskey mentioned that Butkus’s contributions to the game of football would live on, and fans had the opportunity to celebrate him one last time at the Bears’ home opener this year.
Goodell Acknowledges Butkus’s Football Impact and Clean Sports Advocacy
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell echoed McCaskey’s sentiments, emphasizing Butkus’s influence on the linebacker position and the Chicago Bears.
Goodell also recognized Butkus’s commitment to health and wellness through his foundation, particularly his “I Play Clean” campaign, which raised awareness about the dangers of steroid use among high school athletes.
Dick Butkus, a Chicago native, had a storied career with the Bears, playing for the team from 1965 until his retirement in 1973.
During his time in the NFL, he earned numerous accolades, including being named first-team All-NFL six times and participating in eight consecutive Pro Bowls.
He was honored twice as the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year.
Butkus’s impressive career statistics included 1,020 tackles and 489 assists, solidifying his place as one of the most dominant defensive players in football history.
His remarkable achievements led to his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979, during his first year of eligibility.
In addition to his football career, Dick Butkus ventured into the entertainment industry after retiring.
He appeared in films like “Any Given Sunday” and “Necessary Roughness” and featured in television shows such as “My Two Dads” and “Hang Time.”
Dick Butkus leaves behind his beloved wife of over six decades, Helen, their three children, and five grandchildren.
His legacy extends far beyond the football field, and he will be remembered as a gridiron hero and a dedicated advocate for clean sports and community service.
Source: ABC News