For the second time in his five year professional career, Chicago Bears’ outside linebacker Khalil Mack has won the pro version of the prestigious Butkus Award, given to the best linebacker in the game at the high school, college, and professional levels of football. His other win came as a member of the Oakland Raiders two years ago. Mack joins Luke Kuechly of the Carolina Panthers and DeMarcus Ware of the Dallas Cowboys as the only multiple winners of the professional version of the award.
The Hall of Famer himself, the legendary Dick Butkus, surprised Mack at Halas Hall today with the honor.
The Butkus Award selection committee, which consists of 51 members, issued the following statement.
“Mack returned fear to a vaunted Bears defense and was an instrumental, game-changing mismatch weapon who brought a havoc-wreaking presence to the NFC North champions with his signature strip sacks. His inspiring leadership and rare practice habits helped set the tempo for all phases of the team. Combining with Bears rookie and 2017 collegiate Butkus Award winner Roquan Smith went a long way toward returning the Bears atop the division and uniquely added to the richest linebacker tradition in the league.”
Mack picked up 39% of the weighted vote and 67% of first place ballots in beating out fellow nominees, Bobby Wagner of the Seahawks (19%), Darius Leonard of the Colts (19%), Carolina’s Kuechly (13%), with Denver’s Von Miller and the Cowboys’ Jaylon Smith also receiving votes.
The Butkus Award started in 1985 in the collegiate ranks, but expanded to the professional and high school levels in 2008 when the Butkus Foundation took over the award, “to fully realize the original purpose of honoring athletic achievement and service to the community.”
The Butkus Award is a vehicle to promote health and wellness initiatives of the Butkus Foundation, including the Butkus Takes Heart™ cardiovascular wellness program and the I Play Clean® program to promote natural training
The following is inscribed on the Butkus Award.
“When a player receives the Butkus Award he will know two things. First, he is recognized as the best of the best linebackers in the country. Second, and in the long run most important, he will understand that this recognition brings a responsibility to serve others by giving back.” – Dick Butkus.
From one #Bears legend to another in the making— Bears Talk (@NBCSBears) June 4, 2019
Dick Butkus surprised @52Mack_ with his 2018-19 Pro Award ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/DzZyh8FIYk