Pro Football Hall Of Famer And Longtime Chicago Bear Dies At 80

Alan Light

Dick Butkus, the legendary Chicago Bears linebacker, has died at the age of 80 years old. According to a statement released by the Chicago Bears, Butkus “died peacefully in his sleep overnight.” He was at his home in Malibu, California, at the time of his death.

In a statement from the Chicago Bears, the team chairman, George McCaskey described Butkus as “the ultimate Bear, and one of the greatest players in NFL history.” He added, “He was Chicago’s son. He exuded what our great city is about and, not coincidentally, what George Halas looks for in a player: toughness, smarts, instincts, passion and leadership.”

The statement continued, “He refused to accept anything less than the best from himself, or from his teammates. … 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.”

In a statement, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said, “Dick Butkus was a fierce and passionate competitor who helped define the linebacker position as one of the NFL’s all-time greats.” He added, “Dick’s intuition, toughness and athleticism made him the model linebacker whose name will forever be linked to the position and the Chicago Bears.”

The Bears picked Butkus in the 1965 NFL draft. By the end of his career, he had 1,020 tackles and 22 interceptions.

Butkus is a Pro Football Hall of Famer, and in honor of Butkus, the Hall of Fame lowered their flag to half staff. Jim Porter, the Hall of Fame president, said in a statement, “Playing in an era when middle linebacker became one of the game’s glamour positions — and several of Dick’s contemporaries also would end up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame — his name most often was cited first as the epitome of what it took to excel at the highest level.”

Watch the video below to learn more about Butkus’ life and career.

Butkus is survived by his wife, Helen, as well as his three children, Ricky, Matt and Nicky. He also has a nephew who is following in his footsteps. Luke Butkus has worked as a coach at both the college and NFL levels, including as a coach for the Chicago Bears.