Dick Butkus: Wikis


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Dick Butkus
No. 51     
Personal information
Date of birth: December 9, 1942 (1942-12-09) (age 67)
Place of birth: Chicago, Illinois
Height: 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) Weight: 245 lb (111 kg)
Career information
College: Illinois
NFL Draft: 1965 / Round: 1 / Pick: 3
Debuted in 1965 for the Chicago Bears
Last played in 1973 for the Chicago Bears
Career history
 As player:
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of 1973
Tackles     1,020
Interceptions     22
Fumble Recoveries     27
Stats at NFL.com
Pro Football Hall of Fame
College Football Hall of Fame

Richard Marvin "Dick" Butkus (born December 9, 1942) is a former American football player, widely regarded as the greatest linebacker of his generation and one of the best linebackers of all-time. Butkus starred as a football player for the University of Illinois and the Chicago Bears. He became a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979. He played 9 seasons in the NFL for the Chicago Bears.


Early life

The youngest of seven children, the Lithuanian-American Butkus grew up in the Roseland neighborhood on Chicago's south side. He played high school football for Coach Bernie O'Brien at Chicago Vocational School. There he met his three lifelong friends, Patrick O'Neill, Tyler Volk, and Eric Parker, all of whom played linebacker with Butkus in high school. The group was infamously known around the conference as the "Ferocious Quartet."

Butkus wasn't much of a Bears fan at the time, preferring to attend some Chicago Cardinals games at Comiskey Park and watching Thanksgiving games between the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers.[1]

College career

At Illinois, Butkus played center and linebacker from 1962 through 1964. Butkus was twice a unanimous All-American, in 1963 and 1964. Butkus won the Chicago Tribune Silver Football in 1963 as the Big Ten's Most Valuable Player, and was named the American Football Coaches Association Player of the Year in 1964. Butkus also finished sixth in Heisman Trophy balloting in 1963 and third in 1964, a remarkable achievement given his position, as Heisman voters are notorious for their strong bias toward offensive players.

Butkus is a member of The Pigskin Club of Washington, D.C., which recognizes National Intercollegiate All-American football players.

After his collegiate career, Butkus continued to receive recognition for his play. Butkus was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983, and is one of only two players to have a uniform number (#50) retired by the University of Illinois football program (the other being the #77 of Harold "Red" Grange). Butkus was also named to the Walter Camp All-Century team in 1990, and was named as the sixth-best college football player ever by College Football News in 2000. In 2007, Butkus was ranked #19 on ESPN's Top 25 Players In College Football History list.

In 1985, the Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando, Florida created an award in his name: the Dick Butkus Award is given annually to the most outstanding linebacker at the high school, college, and professional levels as selected by a national team of 51 coaches and sportswriters. In 2008, control of the award was relinquished to the Butkus Foundation, headquartered in Chicago, Illinois.


Butkus was drafted in the first round by both the Denver Broncos of the American Football League and his hometown team, the Chicago Bears of the NFL. He signed with the Bears and did not play professionally with any other team. He was selected to eight Pro Bowls and was all-league six times. In his rookie season, Butkus led the Bears in tackles, interceptions, forced fumbles, and fumble recoveries, and regularly led the team in these categories throughout his career. Butkus recovered 27 fumbles in his career, a NFL record at the time of his retirement. He was one of the most feared players of his era and even appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1970 with the caption "The Most Feared Man in the Game." He had one of his most productive seasons in 1970 with 132 tackles, 84 assists, 3 interceptions and 2 fumble recoveries. He was forced to retire after multiple knee injuries in 1973.

Butkus filed a lawsuit against the Bears in 1975, claiming the Bears knowingly kept him on the field when he should have had surgery on his knees. The Bears denied Butkus and their other players the right to seek second opinions with doctors other than the Bears team doctor. The team would also liberally distribute painkillers so that Butkus, a major gate attraction, would be active.

Because of the lawsuit, Butkus' relationship with owner George Halas became icy, despite the fact the two shared much in common (Chicago born and raised, University of Illinois alumni, first-generation Americans). Butkus did return to the Bears as a color analyst on radio broadcasts in 1985, teaming with first-year play-by-play man Wayne Larrivee and former St. Louis Cardinals quarterback Jim Hart.

Butkus was also selected the 70th Greatest Athlete of the 20th Century by ESPN, the ninth-best player in NFL history by The Sporting News, and the fifth-best by the Associated Press. The National Football League named him to their All-Time team in 2000. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979.


In the summer of 2000, Dick Butkus was announced as the coach of the Chicago Enforcers of the XFL. However, a few months later, it was announced that he would not coach the Enforcers. Butkus was instead hired by the league and became the XFL's Director of Competition. Many Chicago fans were disappointed that Butkus was removed from his coaching position. He was replaced with coach Ron Meyer for the league's only season in 2001.


  • The Butkus Foundation - Dick Butkus has supported many charitable causes following his NFL career. The Butkus Foundation, Inc. 501(c)(3) was formed to manage the receipt and disbursement of funds for his charitable causes.[2]
  • I Play Clean Campaign – Butkus tackles the issue of steroids among high school athletes through this national grassroots campaign. The campaign educates and encourages high school students to make the right choice of playing clean – that is, training hard, eating well, and playing with attitude, instead of resorting to illegal and dangerous steroids and performance enhancing products.[3]
  • Butkus Awards - Instituted in 1985, the Butkus Award is one of the elite individual honors in college football. The Butkus Foundation takes stewardship of the award and comes home to Chicago to fully realize the original purpose of honoring athletic achievement and service to the community while honoring the nation’s best high school, college, and professional linebackers. An independent Butkus Award Selection Committee, headed by Pro Football Weekly’s Hub Arkush, is composed of 51 experts, including professional, college, and high school scouts, and prominent sports journalists. This committee conducts the selection process.[4]
  • The Dick Butkus Center for Cardiovascular Wellness - This 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in Orange County, California is a signature cardiac screening program that uses specialized testing to help identify those at risk of heart disease and sudden cardiac death. Screening tests are fast, painless, and potentially lifesaving. Thanks to the generosity of donors, the Center is able to offer testing at reasonable rates.[5]
  • Legends 51 Cabernet Sauvignon Charity Wine – 100% of proceeds from purchase of Legends 51 wine benefit the Butkus Foundation in funding the "I Play Clean" program. The wine was released in November of 2009.[6]
  • Charity Fight Night - This annual event began in 2002 and is now in its eighth year. This celebrity boxing event features a reception followed by eight Olympic-caliber bouts, courtesy of Windy City Boxing. All proceeds support the Butkus Foundation. The event is hosted by Sparta Asset Management of Chicago. The annual event includes a live/silent auction featuring sports memorabilia, unique experiences, and original sports artwork, along with performances by magicians. Past attendees include Butkus, Bears' greats Mike Ditka, Gale Sayers, and Dan Hampton, and other Chicago sports legends.[7]

After football

Since his career as a player, Butkus has become a well known celebrity endorser, broadcaster, and actor. He has appeared in films such as "Gus," "Cracking Up," "Necessary Roughness," "Any Given Sunday," and "Johnny Dangerously," and as a regular character on TV shows such as "Blue Thunder," "My Two Dads," and "Hang Time." In the critically acclaimed TV movie Brian's Song (1971), he portrayed himself.[8] He made two appearances each on the TV shows "Coach," "Growing Pains," and "MacGyver." In an oft-rerun episode of "Murder, She Wrote," Butkus appeared in a locker-room scene wearing nothing but a towel wrapped around his waist.[citation needed] Butkus had a cameo appearance in the second season episode "The No-Cut Contract" of the television show "The Rockford Files."

Butkus was hired as the replacement for Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder on CBS' pregame show The NFL Today in 1988, serving as an analyst through 1989. On August 17, 2007, Butkus attended and made the first broadcast at the first Barrow Whalers game in Barrow, Alaska.

Butkus promoted the "Qwik-Cook Grill," a grill utilizing newspaper as its main fuel, on TV infomercials in the '90s.[9] Butkus starred in a 2009 FedEx commercial entitled "I'm Sorry Dick Butkus," developed by BBDO New York. In this commercial, Butkus is brought in to help a small business go global.[10][11]

Butkus' son, Matt, was part of University of Southern California's 1990 Rose Bowl winning team as a defensive lineman, and joins his father in philanthropic activities such as the "I Play Clean" campaign. Butkus' nephew, Luke Butkus, was hired on February 19, 2007, as the Bears' offensive line coach.[12]


  1. ^ 75 Seasons: The Complete Story of the National Football League, p. 16.
  2. ^ The Butkus Foundation. Retrieved 2010-02-25.
  3. ^ I Play Clean&#8482 Campaign. Retrieved 2010-02-25.
  4. ^ Butkus Awards. Retrieved 2010-02-25.
  5. ^ The Dick Butkus Center for Cardiovascular Wellness. Retrieved 2010-02-25.
  6. ^ Legends 51 Cabernet Sauvignon Charity Wine - EventWines.com. Retrieved 2010-02-25.
  7. ^ Football Legend Dick Butkus to Host Charity Event. Retrieved 2010-02-25.
  8. ^ Marill, Alvin H. (1987). Movies Made For Television: The Telefeature and the Mini-series, 1964-1986. New York: Baseline/New York Zoetrope. pp. 53–4. ISBN 0-918-432-85-5. 
  9. ^ The Qwik-Cook Grill, a review article by Steven Hicks. Retrieved 2010-02-25.
  10. ^ I'm Sorry Dick Butkus.
  11. ^ I'm Sorry Dick Butkus. Retrieved 2010-02-25.
  12. ^ Rivera won't return to Bears for 2007 season by Larry Mayer, February 17, 2007. Retrieved 2010-02-25.

External links

Simple English

Dick Butkus
Jersey #(s):
Born: December 9, 1942 (1942-12-09) (age 68)
Chicago, Illinois
Career Information
Year(s): 1965–1973
NFL Draft: 1965 / Round: 1 / Pick: 3
College: Illinois
Professional Teams
Career Stats
Tackles     1,020
Interceptions     22
Fumble Recoveries     27
Stats at NFL.com
Career Highlights and Awards
  • 8x Pro Bowl selection (1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972)
  • 8x All-Pro selection (1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972)
  • NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team
  • NFL 1960s All-Decade Team
  • NFL 1970s All-Decade Team
  • 1969 NEA NFL Defensive Player of the Year
  • 1970 NEA NFL Defensive Player of the Year
  • Chicago Bears #51 Retired
Pro Football Hall of Fame
College Football Hall of Fame

Richard Marvin "Dick" Butkus (born December 9, 1942) is a former American football player, commonly considered as the greatest linebacker of his time and one of the best football players ever. In college Butkus played for the University of Illinois and in the National Football League the Chicago Bears. He became a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979.

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