Chicago Bears pay tribute to ‘ultimate Bear’ Dick Butkus after his death aged 80

Chicago Bears have paid tribute to “the ultimate Bear” Dick Butkus following the death of the Hall of Fame middle line-backer at the age of 80.

The Bears led a moment of silence before their win over the Washington Commanders on Thursday.

Born in Chicago, Butkus played his entire football career in the state of Illinois and in his nine years with the Bears, being the third overall choice in the 1965 NFL Draft, he was a five-time first-team All-Pro selection and an eight-time Pro Bowl honouree.

Butkus’ 49 total career takeaways from turnovers rank second in the franchise’s history and he was renowned as one of the fiercest tacklers in the NFL.

A right knee injury forced him to retire at the age of 31 following the 1973 season. Butkus was named in Hall of Fame All-Decade Teams for the 1960s and 1970s. In 1979, Butkus was added to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“Dick was the ultimate Bear and one of the greatest players in NFL history,” Bears chairman George H McCaskey said on

“He was Chicago’s son. He exuded what our great city is about and, not coincidently, what (former head coach) George Halas looked for in a player: toughness, smarts, instincts, passion and leadership.

“He refused to accept anything less than the best from himself, or from his team-mates.

“His contributions to the game he loved will live forever and we are grateful he was able to be at our home opener this year to be celebrated one last time by his many fans.”

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell paid tribute, with a post on X – formerly known as Twitter, reading: “Dick Butkus was a fierce and passionate competitor who helped define the line-backer position as one of the NFL’s all-time greats.

“Dick’s intuition, toughness and athleticism made him the model linebacker whose name will forever be linked to the position and the Chicago Bears.”

Following the Bears’ 40-20 victory on Thursday night – which ended the longest losing streak in the franchise’s history – wide receiver DJ Moore added a heartfelt message to Butkus.

Moore, who finished the game with 230 receiving yards and three touchdowns, posted on social media: “R.I.P Dick Butkus. Was looking over us Tonight”.

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