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Chicago Bears legend Dick Butkus dead at age 80

Kevin Kaduk Avatar
October 5, 2023

After more than 60 years, NFL quarterbacks can finally get a good night’s sleep.

Sure, Dick Butkus hadn’t played in a game since 1973, but his outsized and fearsome legend always suggested he still might break through the line and drive an opponent into the ground.

And of course you all remember that old joke.

Q: What do Green Bay Packers quarterbacks do before they go to sleep?

A: Check under the bed for Dick Butkus.

Butkus, who was not only one of the biggest legends in Bears history but also NFL lore, died Thursday in his sleep, according to a statement from his family.

He was 80.

A Chicago legend dating back to his days at Chicago Vocational and then the University of Illinois and then Wrigley Field and Soldier Field with the Bears, Butkus spent the majority of his life being synonymous with tough-nosed and fierce football. He was the cornerstone of the Bears defense from 1965 to 1973 and both he and Gale Sayers were bright stars on some otherwise bad Bears teams.

He later became a television star, playing himself in “Brian’s Song” and starring in the ubiquitous “Tastes Great! Less Filling!” beer commercials in the 1980s.

“Dick was the ultimate Bear, and one of the greatest players in NFL history,” Bears CEO George McCaskey said in a statement on Thursday. “He was Chicago’s son. He exuded what our great city is about and, not coincidently, what George Halas looked for in a player: toughness, smarts, instincts, passion and leadership.”

Kevin Kaduk, Herb Lawrence and Mark Carman remembered Dick Butkus during the latest episode of The Chicago Sports Podcast.

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