Football legend Dick Butkus has died at age 80.
He played as the Chicago Bears’ middle linebacker for nine years. In his rookie season, Butkus, a first-round draft choice, had only one challenger for National Football League Rookie of the Year honors, teammate Gale Sayers. That same year Butkus was named first-team All-NFL, an honor he would record five more times. Butkus also played in the Pro Bowl following his rookie season and in each of the next seven years.
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. 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. We send our deepest condolences to the Butkus family, the Bears organization and the many fans and people he impacted throughout his life.”