Football Legend Dick Butkus Dead At 80

NFL great Dick Butkus has died at the age of 80, according to The Chicago Tribune.

Initial reports from TMZ Sports said that Butkus was found unresponsive at his Malibu home about 12:51 p.m. Thursday and was later pronounced dead at the scene.

Butkus, widely considered one of football’s greatest linebackers, played for the Chicago Bears for his entire career, donning his burnt orange and navy jersey from 1965 to 1973.

Bears Chairman George H. McCaskey remembered the athlete in a statement on the team’s account on X, formerly Twitter, where he called Butkus “the ultimate Bear” and “Chicago’s son.”

“He exuded what our great city is about and, not coincidently, what [team owner and coach] George Halas looked for in a player: toughness, smarts, instincts, passion and leadership,” McCaskey wrote. “He refused to accept anything less than the best from himself, or from his teammates.”

During his nine seasons in the NFL, the University of Illinois alum earned the nicknames “The Maestro of Mayhem,” “The Enforcer,” “The Animal” and
“The Robot of Destruction” for his powerful play.

He was a formidable presence on the field, standing 6 feet, 3 inches and weighing 245 pounds at his peak, and racking up 1,020 tackles, 22 interceptions and 27 fumble recoveries in his career.

Not one to shy away from the spotlight, Butkus appeared in films including “The Longest Yard” (1974), “Superdome” (1978), “Necessary Roughness” (1991) and “Any Given Sunday” (1999). He was a regular character on TV shows such as “Blue Thunder,” “My Two Dads and “MacGyver.”

Following his retirement, he enjoyed a career as a broadcaster and sports analyst.

The Bears retired Butkus’ jersey number 51 in 1994.

Butkus is survived by his wife, Helen Essenhart, and three children.

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