The Bears and the Butkus family confirmed the news shortly after.
A Chicago native, Butkus was selected by the Bears in the first round of the 1965 NFL Draft, after a very successful career at Illinois. Known for a ferocious energy on the field, Butkus was an 8x Pro Bowler and totaled over 1,000 career tackles, and an incredible 27 fumble recoveries through just 119 games, a record at the time he retired. Although injuries cut his career short, he is widely considered one of the greatest defensive players of all time.
Butkus had been active with Bears social media and was a regular guest at Soldier Field, appearing as recently as the Bears season opener. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979, and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983. He will forever be remembered as one of the greatest Chicago Bears of all time.
Butkus was 80 years old.
Bill Zimmerman had the pleasure to interview Dick Butkus a few years ago, so he wanted to re-rack that discussion with some introductory thoughts on the legendary linebacker. Check out Bill’s reflection on Butkus and their fun talk here.