Dick Butkus was one of the greatest linebackers in the history of the NFL and a symbol of toughness and intensity. He played for the Chicago Bears from 1965 to 1973 and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979. He was known for his vicious hits, relentless pursuit, and fierce leadership on the field. He was also a successful sports commentator and actor after his retirement from football.
Dick Butkus’ Early life and college career
Dick Butkus was born on December 9, 1942, in Chicago, Illinois, to Lithuanian immigrants John and Emma Butkus. He grew up in a rough neighborhood and learned to play football on the streets. He attended Chicago Vocational High School, where he excelled in football, basketball, and baseball. He was named the Chicago Sun-Times Player of the Year in 1959 and received several scholarship offers from colleges.
Dick Butkus chose to attend the University of Illinois, where he played as a center and a linebacker from 1962 to 1964. He was a two-time consensus All-American and won the Chicago Tribune Silver Football as the Big Ten’s most valuable player in 1963. He also finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1964. He set school records for tackles, interceptions, and fumble recoveries and helped the Illini win the Big Ten title and the Rose Bowl in 1964.
Dick Butkus’ NFL career and legacy
Dick Butkus was drafted by the Chicago Bears with the third overall pick in the 1965 NFL draft. He signed a four-year contract worth $280,000, which was then a record for a rookie. He made an immediate impact on the Bears’ defense, earning the starting middle linebacker position and leading the team in tackles. He was named the NFL Rookie of the Year and selected to his first of eight consecutive Pro Bowls.
Dick Butkus continued to dominate the NFL with his ferocious style of play, earning respect and fear from his opponents. He was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year twice, in 1969 and 1970, by The Associated Press. He was also selected to six first-team All-Pro teams and two second-team All-Pro teams. He recorded 1,020 tackles, 22 interceptions, 27 fumble recoveries, and three touchdowns in his nine-year career.
Butkus’ career was cut short by a series of knee injuries that required multiple surgeries. He played his last game on October 21, 1973, against the Washington Redskins. He announced his retirement on May 7, 1974, at the age of 31. He later sued the Bears for negligence and malpractice for mishandling his injuries, but settled out of court for $600,000 .
Butkus is widely regarded as one of the best linebackers and defensive players of all time. He was ranked fifth on The Sporting News’ list of the 100 Greatest Football Players in 1999. He was also ranked second on NFL Films’ list of the Top 10 Linebackers of All Time in 2007. He was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1979 . His number 51 jersey was retired by the Bears in 1994.
Dick Butkus’ net worth
According to the web search results, Dick Butkus’ net worth is estimated to be between $8 million and $10 million as of 2023. He earned most of his wealth from his football career, as well as from his acting career. Butkus was a highly sought-after player in the NFL and was one of the highest-paid players of his era.
Post-football career and personal life
After retiring from football, Butkus pursued a career in sports broadcasting and acting. He worked as a color commentator for NBC Sports from 1975 to 1978 and CBS Sports from 1985 to 1988. He also hosted several radio shows and documentaries on football.
Movies and TV shows in which Dick Butkus appeared are:
- Brian’s Song (1971), a biographical film about the friendship between Chicago Bears teammates Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers. Butkus played himself in an uncredited role .
- The Longest Yard (1974), a comedy film about a group of prison inmates who form a football team to challenge the guards. Butkus played a convict named Cletus .
- My Two Dads (1987-1990), a sitcom about two men who share custody of a teenage girl after her mother dies. Butkus played Ed Klawicki, the owner of a diner where the main characters often hang out.
- Hang Time (1995-2000), a sitcom about a high school basketball team that includes a female player. Butkus played Coach Mike Katowinski, who mentors the team .
- Any Given Sunday (1999), a drama film about the behind-the-scenes conflicts and challenges of a professional football team. Butkus played an assistant coach named Montezuma Monroe .
Butkus also appeared in several movies and TV shows, such as Brian’s Song (1971), The Longest Yard (1974), Gremlins (1984), My Two Dads (1987-1990), Necessary Roughness (1991), Hang Time (1995-2000), Any Given Sunday (1999), Blue Mountain State (2010-2011), and The League (2012-2015). He also starred in several commercials for products such as Miller Lite, Nike, FedEx, Coca-Cola, and Levitra.
Butkus married Helen Essenhart in June 1963. They have three children: Ricky, Matt, and Nikki. They also have nine grandchildren. Butkus is involved in several charitable causes, such as The Butkus Foundation, which supports health and wellness programs for children; The Butkus Award, which honors the best linebackers at high school,college,and professional levels; The I Play Clean Campaign,which educates young athletes about the dangers of steroid use; The Dick Butkus Center for Cardiovascular Wellness, which provides screening and treatment for heart disease; and The Dick Butkus Heart & Vascular Screening Center,which offers free heart and vascular screenings for former NFL players.
Butkus died peacefully in his sleep on October 5, 2023, at his home in Malibu, California. He was 80 years old. His cause of death has not been revealed yet. His family issued a statement confirming his death and requesting privacy.
Dick Butkus was a legend of the game and a legend of life. He was a fierce competitor, a loyal teammate, a loving husband, a devoted father, a generous philanthropist, and a respected icon. He left an indelible mark on the NFL and the world with his talent, passion, and character. He will be remembered as one of the greatest linebackers and one of the greatest Bears of all time.