c994d02922b4f232d0dcff70499775a7084fa52a Bears legend and Hall of Fame linebacker Dick Butkus passes away at age 80
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Bears legend and Hall of Fame linebacker Dick Butkus passes away at age 80

Dick Butkus watches Illinois play in 2019
(Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Dick Butkus, a legendary Bears Hall of Fame middle linebacker and Chicago native, has passed away at the age of 80. The Butkus Family confirmed his peaceful passing at his home in Malibu, Calif. The family expressed their gratitude for the prayers and support they have received during this difficult time.

Butkus was known as the ultimate Bear and one of the greatest players in NFL history. Bears chairman George H. McCaskey described him as Chicago's son, embodying the toughness, smarts, instincts, passion, and leadership that the city values. Butkus refused to accept anything less than the best from himself and his teammates, leaving a lasting impact on the game of football.

Born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, Butkus made a name for himself at Chicago Vocational High School and the University of Illinois before being drafted by the Bears in 1965. He played his entire NFL career with the Bears from 1965 to 1973, becoming one of the most popular players in franchise history. Known for his intimidating and relentless style of play, Butkus was a force to be reckoned with on the field.

Butkus was a frequent Pro Bowl selection and was named an All-Pro in seven of his nine seasons. He won two NFL Defensive Player of the Year Awards and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1979. His impact on the game was recognized with his inclusion in the NFL All-Decade Teams for the 1960s and 1970s, as well as being voted onto the NFL's 75th and 100th Anniversary Teams.

Not only was Butkus a dominant defensive player, but he also possessed exceptional ball skills. He set an NFL record with 26 fumble recoveries and had 22 career interceptions, tying him for 11th in Bears history. His contributions to the team were immeasurable, and his jersey number 51 was retired by the Bears.

Off the field, Butkus pursued a successful acting career, appearing in numerous movies and TV shows. He endorsed various products and became involved in charitable causes. He established The Butkus Foundation, which created the Butkus Award to honor the best linebackers in football at all levels. He also started the Dick Butkus Center for Cardiovascular Wellness, focusing on cardiac screening and promoting heart health.

Butkus will be remembered as a true legend of the game, a ferocious competitor, and a beloved member of the Bears family. His impact on and off the field will continue to inspire future generations of football players. The Bears organization and supporters extends their condolences to his wife, Helen, and their family during this difficult time.

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