People have always had an image of Dick Butkus. It was as this rough, tough, and utterly terrifying linebacker for the Chicago Bears. He struck genuine fear in opposing players thanks to his punishing hits, aggressive playing style, and nasty disposition. Late owner George Halas was enamored with him from the beginning. The kid was homegrown out of the South Side and went to the University of Illinois. It truly was a match made in heaven.
Butkus went on to become arguably the greatest middle linebacker in NFL history, boasting 22 interceptions and a then-record 27 recovered fumbles. All of this despite having his career cut short by knee injuries. It’s hard not to wonder how different things might’ve been for him if modern medicine of today had been around back then. Despite having retired back in the early 1970s, the legacy of Butkus is as strong as it has ever been. Not just with the Bears, but also his alma mater at Illinois.
The college was set to honor him by unveiling a new statue on campus. One that fittingly honored the man as probably the best to ever wear that Illini uniform. When giving a speech about the entire affair, Butkus was his usual self. He had no regrets about the way he played and would do it all over again. Yet in the midst of it all, one got a moment of clear emotion from the 76-year old.
Dick Butkus truly loved football as few others did
This should remind people that for all the myths about the ferocious creature Butkus was, he loved the game of football. Nobody plays with as much passion as that if they don’t love what they do. The only tragedy is that the Bears weren’t able to get that man a championship. Nobody else in all of franchise history deserved it more. Such is the cruel reality of professional spots. Not everybody gets to hold the trophy.