NFL great Dick Butkus dies at 80

 October 8, 2023

National Football League (NFL) legend Dick Butkus has died at the age of 80. 

The news of Butkus's passing was confirmed by his family on Thursday.

"The Butkus family confirms that football and entertainment legend Dick Butkus died peacefully in his sleep overnight at home in Malibu, California," the family wrote.

It added, "The Butkus family is gathering with Dick's wife Helen. They appreciate your prayers and support. Additional information will be provided when it is available."

"The ultimate bear"

ESPN reports:

Butkus became a [Chicago] Bears legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer in his nine-year career, which started in 1965. The middle linebacker was a vicious tackler whose intimidating presence put some players on their heels before the ball was even snapped.

In a statement following the news of his passing, Chicago Bears' Chairman George McCaskey called Butkus "the ultimate Bear."

"He refused to accept anything less than the best from himself, or from his teammates," McCaskey wrote, going on to note that Butkus had "toughness, smarts, instincts, passion, and leadership."

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, in a statement of his own, called Butkus a "fierce and passionate competitor who helped define the linebacker position as one of the NFL's all-time greats." Goodell added that "Dick's intuition, toughness, and athleticism made him the model linebacker whose name will forever be linked to the position and the Chicago Bears."

Beyond football

Following his professional football career, which was cut short by an injury, Butkus, according to ABC 7, went on to be a sports commentator, and he also acted in television shows, movies, and commercials.

CBS Sports, in this report, details Butkus's career in entertainment, which began in 1971, when he appeared in Brian's Song. Butkus would continue acting for the next several decades.

Butkus, according to the outlet appeared in such films as Gremlins 2: The New Batch, The Last Boy Scout, Teddy Bear's Picnic, Necessary Roughness, and others. And, his television credits include Emergency!, McMillan & Wife, Police Story, Joe Forrester, Hang Time, MacGyver, Magnum P.I., The Love Boat, The Bernie Mac Show, and I Didn't Do It.

"If you love something, it's not work."

Butkus, in multiple interviews, spoke about his life in football.

In 1998, he said, "I was worried about making a mistake because people would say, 'He's just a football player.' So, I was harder on myself to do it right."

In a 2004 interview, Butkus said, "Football for me was never work. If you love something, it's not work."

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