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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 football players of all time. Butkus starred as a football player for the University of Illinoismarker and the Chicago Bears. He became a member of the Pro Football Hall of Famemarker in 1979.

Early life

The youngest of eight children, the Lithuanianmarker-American Butkus grew up in the Roseland neighborhood on Chicagomarker's south side. He played high school football for Coach Bernie O'Brien at Chicago Vocational Schoolmarker. There he met his three lifelong friends Patrick O'Neill, Tyler Volk, and Eric Parker who played linebacker with him in high school. The group was infamously known around the conference as the ferocious quartet.

Despite growing up in Chicago, Butkus wasn't much of a Bears fan at the time, preferring to go to some Chicago Cardinals games at Comiskey Parkmarker and watching Thanksgiving games between the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers.

University of Illinois

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 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.

Butkus is a member of The Pigskin Club Of Washington, D.C. National Intercollegiate All-American Football Players Honor Roll.

After his collegiate career, Butkus continued to receive recognition for his play. Butkus was inducted into the College Football Hall of Famemarker in 1983, and is one of only two players to have a uniform number (#50) retired by the University of Illinois (the other being 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. As perhaps the ultimate tribute to his excellence, 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 in college football. In 2008 this annual prestigious award was moved to Chicago where recipients from high school, college and the NFL will be selected by a national team of 51 coaches and sportswriters. In 2007, Butkus was ranked #19 on ESPN's Top 25 Players In College Football History list.


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 was selected to the Pro Bowl for 8 seasons, and was all-league six times. In his rookie season, Butkus led the team in tackles, interceptions, forced fumbles, and fumble recoveries and regularly led the team in these categories throughout his career. Butkus recovered 25 fumbles in his career, an 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 INT 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, and the team would liberally use painkillers so Butkus, a major gate attraction, would be active.

Because of the lawsuit, Butkus' relationship with owner George Halas was 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. His longtime teammate Gale Sayers was also honored during a ceremony during halftime of a rain-soaked Monday night game between the Bears and Green Bay Packers at Soldier Fieldmarker.

He was also selected the 70th greatest athlete of the 20th century by ESPN, the 9th best player in league 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 Famemarker in 1979.Although Butkus was bothered by his injuries he was deemed the most feared linebacker in the NFL.


In the summer of 2000, Dick Butkus was announced to be the coach of the Chicago Enforcers of the XFL. A few months later it was announced that he would not coach the Enforcers. Butkus was given a "promotion", and became the XFL Director of Competition. Many Chicagomarker fans were disappointed that Butkus was removed from his coaching position. Butkus was replaced with Ron Meyer for the XFL'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 been formed to manage the receipt and disbursement of funds for his charitable causes.

  • I Play Clean™ Campaign – Butkus is tackling 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.

  • Butkus Awards® - Instituted in 1985, The Butkus Award® is one of the elite individual honors in college football. The Butkus Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, 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 and comprised of 51 experts including professional, college and high school scouts, and prominent sports journalists, conduct the selection process.

  • The Dick Butkus Center for Cardiovascular Wellness - This 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in Orange County, CA 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 our donors, the Center is able to offer testing at reasonable rates.

  • Legends 51 Cabernet Sauvignon Charity Wine – 100% of proceeds from purchase of Legends 51 wine benefit the Butkus Foundation in funding the national grassroots outreach "I Play Clean" program. The wine is scheduled for release November 2009.

  • Charity Fight Night - This annual event began in 2002 and is now in it's 8th year. This celebrity boxing event features a reception followed by eight Olympic-caliber bouts courtesy of Windy City Boxing. All proceed 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. Attendees include Chicago Bears greats Dick Butkus, Mike Ditka, Gale Sayers, Dan Hampton and other Chicago sports legends. NBC-TV's Mike Adamle will serve as emcee in 2009.

After football

  • Promoted the "Qwik-Cook Grill", a grill utilizing newspaper as its main fuel, on TV infomercials in the '90s.

  • Butkus had a cameo appearance in the 2nd season episode "The No-Cut Contract" of the Television show The Rockford Files.

  • On August 17, 2007, Butkus attended and made the first broadcast at the first Barrow Whalers game in Barrow, Alaskamarker.

  • In 2008 Butkus initiated a nationwide campaign to help eliminate anabolic steroid use by high school athletes called I Play Clean He is asking all athletes to take the I Play Clean Pledge to not use performance enhancing drugs and to eat right, train hard and play with an attitude.

  • Butkus starred in a 2009 FedEx commercial entitled "I'm Sorry Dick Butkus" and developed by BBDO New York. In this commercial, Butkus is brought in to help a small business go global.[69089]


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