The Chicago Bears will wear a patch on their jerseys for the remainder of the season in honor of Hall of Fame linebacker Dick Butkus, who passed away on Oct. 5 at the age of 80.
“It’s been gratifying to hear so many of our current players say in recent days how much they appreciate the Butkus legacy,” chairman George H. McCaskey said. “The purpose of the patch is every time they pull on the pads they’ll take a moment to think about Dick and his approach to the game.”
Considered one of the greatest defensive players in NFL history, Butkus starred at Chicago Vocational High School and the University of Illinois, where he was a two-time All-American, before being selected by the Bears with the No. 3 overall pick in the 1965 NFL Draft.
Butkus played nine seasons in Chicago from 1965-73, where he was voted to the Pro Bowl eight times and earned first-team All-Pro Honors five times and second-team All-Pro honors three times. He was also named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1969 and 1970.
The NFL did not track tackles or sacks during Butkus’ playing days, but it’s believed he recorded more than 1,000 tackles during his career. He also intercepted 22 passes and recovered 27 fumbles, which was an NFL record at the time.
Butkus was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979, his first year of eligibility, as well as the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983. He also has an award named after him, which is presented annually to the best linebacker at the high school, college and professional levels.
Following his playing career, Butkus became an actor, appearing in films such as “The Longest Yard,” “Johnny Dangerously,” “Necessary Roughness” and “Any Given Sunday.” He also had reoccurring roles in TV shows such as “My Two Dads,” “Vega$,” “MacGyver” and “Hang Time.”
Butkus also spent time as a broadcaster, which includes stints as a color analyst on the Bears’ radio network during the 1985 Super Bowl season and analyst on CBS’ weekly pregame show, “The NFL Today,” from 1988-89.
As for the football-shaped patch – which will be worn on the left shoulder of the Bears’ navy blue home, white road and 1936 throwback jerseys – it prominently displays Butkus’ No. 51, which was retired in his honor in 1994.
Chicago has also painted the patch design on the sidelines ahead of today’s game against the Minnesota Vikings, which kicks off at 1 p.m. ET on FOX.