What can you say about one of the icons of the NFL? He even had a linebacker’s name: Dick Butkus. When you hear that name, you know people are not talking about a kicker.
Regarded as the greatest linebacker of his generation and of all time, Butkus was the most feared defenders in a career that spanned nine seasons, all with the Chicago Bears.
Both the Denver Broncos of the American Football League and the Bears of the NFL drafted Butkus in the first round. Being a hometown hero (he starred at the University of Illinois), his fit into the Windy City scene was seamless. Along with the Bears other first round pick, a running back named Sayers from the University of Kansas, it looked like the Bears would be counting their playoff money for years to come. However, in an ironic twist, the Bears would never make the playoffs during their time in Chicago.
Thanks to Alan Light from Flikr.com for this great picture of Dick Butkus.
In his rookie season, Butkus led the Bears in tackles, interceptions, forced fumbles, and fumble recoveries, and regularly led the team in these categories throughout his career. His 27 recovered fumbles were 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." In an NFL Films documentary, Butkus was quoted as saying, “I liked the movie, Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte. I got a charge when that head came rolling down the stairs. I like to sit there and watch it, and have that happen on a football field.”
Butkus was also selected the 70th Greatest Athlete of the 20th Century by ESPN, the ninth-best player in NFL 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 Fame in 1979.
Thanks to Save vs Death from Flikr.com for this great picture of Dick Butkus SI Cover.
Retiring in 1973 after multiple knee injuries, Butkus has a trophy case full of honors. He was selected to the Pro Bowl eight times, a six time first team All-Pro selection, the NFL Defensive Player of the Year twice, a member of NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Time Team and the 1960s and 1970’s All-Decade Team, and has #51 jersey retired from the Bears, and his #50 jersey retired from the University of Illinois. In 1983, he was selected to the College Football Hall of Fame.
In 1985, the Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando, Florida created an award in his name. Among the long list of post-season awards, there is the Butkus Award, which is given annually to the most outstanding linebacker at the high school, college, and professional levels. The award is given by a consensus poll of 51 coaches and sportswriters across the nation.
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