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NFL Hall of Fame linebacker, who hit like a Mack truck, dies at 80

A football. (Dreamstime/TNS)

Oct. 5—Dick Butkus, a ferocious NFL linebacker for the Chicago Bears who would “try to put you in the cemetery, not the hospital,” anytime he hit you, according to another football legend, has died.

The Chicago native, who also enjoyed an acting later in life, was 80.

“The Butkus family confirms that football and entertainment legend Dick Butkus died peacefully in his sleep overnight at home in Malibu, California,” the Butkus family announced via X. “The Butkus family is gathering with Dick’s wife Helen. They appreciate your prayers and support.”

The 8-time Pro Bowler was a center and linebacker during his collegiate career at the University of Illinois, where he would become a two-time All-American. The five-time All Pro, who stood 6-foot-3, was a relentless, sideline-to-sideline linebacker who played 119 career games for the Bears between 1965-73 before knee problems curtailed his career.

“Dick was an animal. I called him a maniac. A stone maniac,” said fellow NFL Hall of Fame defensive end Deacon Jones, according to Wikipedia. “He was a well-conditioned animal, and every time he hit you, he tried to put you in the cemetery, not the hospital.”

When everything was said in done with the Bears, he finished with a still-record 27 fumble recoveries, 22 interceptions and a whopping 1,020 tackles. He was the recipient of the George Halas Award in 1974 and was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979.

“Dick Butkus was a fierce and passionate competitor who helped define the linebacker position as one of the NFL’s all-time greats,” said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. “Dick’s intuition, toughness and athleticism made him the model linebacker whose name will forever be linked to the position and the Chicago Bears.”


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