Dick Butkus, the legendary Chicago Bears linebacker and Pro Football Hall of Famer passed away on October 5, 2023, at the age of 80. He was widely regarded as one of the greatest and most intimidating defenders in NFL history, and his death shocked and saddened the football world. In this article, we will explore the cause of his death, his remarkable career, and his impact on and off the field.
Exploring Dick Butkus’ Cause of Death
According to the Los Angeles Department of Health, the official cause of Butkus’ death was a cerebrovascular accident, which is commonly known as a stroke. A stroke happens when brain cells die due to a blood supply interruption. Strokes can result in various symptoms, such as paralysis, speech problems, vision loss, and cognitive impairment. Strokes can also be fatal, especially if they are not treated quickly.
Butkus died peacefully in his sleep overnight at his home in Malibu, California, according to a statement from his family. His wife, Helen, and his three children were by his side. His family also expressed their gratitude for the prayers and support from the fans and the NFL community.
Butkus’ death was a shock to many, as he had no prior symptoms of heart disease. However, he had a history of cardiovascular issues, as he underwent a five-way bypass surgery in 2001 after a routine screening revealed an immediate need for the procedure. Since then, he has been an advocate for early cardiovascular screening and wellness, and he founded the Butkus Center for Cardiac Screening near St. Joseph Hospital in Chicago. He also partnered with the NFL Alumni Association to promote wellness and obesity awareness among former players and adults.
Butkus’ death was mourned by many in the NFL community, including his former teammates, opponents, coaches, and fans. He was remembered as a fierce competitor, a loyal friend, and a generous person. Many also paid tribute to his legacy as one of the best linebackers and defenders of all time.
The Legendary Career of Dick Butkus
Butkus was born in Chicago on December 9, 1942, and played his whole football career in Illinois. He was a two-time consensus All-American, Big Ten MVP, and college football Lineman of the Year at Chicago Vocational High School and the University of Illinois. He entered the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983.
Butkus was drafted third overall by the Chicago Bears in 1965 and played from 1965 to 1973. Six-time first-team All-Pro, two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and eight-time Pro Bowler. The NFL 1960s, 1970s, 75th, and 100th Anniversary All-Time Teams included him. Only he and Walter Payton had their Bears jersey numbers retired (51).
Butkus was noted for his fierce tackling, perseverance, and ball-hawking. He intercepted 22 passes, recovered 27 fumbles (a record when he retired), and caused many more with his hard hits. He embodied a middle linebacker and was feared and admired by his opponents. In 2009, NFL Network ranked him the most feared tackler ever.
Butkus retired after part of the 1973 season because to a 1970 knee injury. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979, his first year eligible. In 1999, The Sporting News voted him the ninth-best NFL player of all time.
Remembering Butkus’ Impact on and off the Field
Butkus was a tremendous athlete and person who helped others on and off the field. He founded the Butkus Foundation to promote health and well-being via unique purpose marketing. The Butkus Award, awarded annually to the finest professional, college, and high school linebacker, was conceived by him. He also backed the I Play Clean initiative, which encourages high school players to work, eat healthy, and avoid steroids.
Butkus inspired many NFL players, particularly linebackers, who looked up to him as a mentor. His enthusiasm, drive, and field skills inspired many players. Butkus has inspired Mike Singletary, Ray Lewis, Brian Urlacher, Patrick Willis, and Luke Kuechly.
Butkus succeeded in acting, sports commentating, and business after retiring from football. He appeared in hundreds of films and TV series, including Brian’s Song, The Longest Yard, Gremlins, My Two Dads, Hang Time, and Blue Mountain State. He appeared in over 200 commercials and was a prominent brand ambassador.
Butkus’ legacy on and off the field will endure. His family, friends, and admirers will miss him as a popular figure in Chicago and beyond. He was a football legend who shaped American culture. Dick Butkus was the finest.