Storied NFL linebacker Dick Butkus dies at 80

Dick Butkus, who played linebacker for the Chicago Bears for nine years, has died peacefully in his sleep, his family says.
Chicago Bears linebacker Dick Butkus in 1973
Posted at 7:26 PM, Oct 05, 2023

Legendary NFL linebacker Dick Butkus has died, according to a statement from his family. He was 80 years old.

In a statement released on Oct. 5 on the Chicago Bears X account, the Butkus family said Dick died in his sleep overnight at home in California. The family thanked fans for their prayers and support, and said more information would be released when it was available.

"He refused to accept anything less than the best from himself, or from his teammates," the Chicago Bears said in a statement. "His contributions to the game he loved will live forever."

Butkus played for the University of Illinois and was drafted in the first round his rookie season, #3 overall. He played linebacker for the Chicago Bears for nine years, from 1965 to 1973, establishing a reputation as a ferocious tackler who recovered 27 fumbles.

Butkus retired in 1973, having played 119 games for the Bears. In 1979, as soon as he was eligible, Butkus was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The Bears retired his jersey, #51, in 1994.

Butkus is survived by his wife Helen and three children.