Dick Butkus Days Until Chicago Bears Season Opener


Summer is in full force and all things football are on the horizon.  Training camp is less than a week away and the Bears’ first preseason game is exactly three weeks from today!  It’s coming fast and the numbers represented in our Countdown to Kickoff series are getting smaller and smaller.  Today we sit a mere 51 days from kicking off the regular season and so today, we honor a Bears legend: #51, Dick Butkus

Before there was Brian Urlacher, there was Mike Singletary.  Before there was Mike Singletary, there was the baddest man on the planet playing middle linebacker for the Chicago Bears.  Playing from 1965 to 1973, Dick Butkus struck fear into opposing players with his menacing style of play.

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In today’s NFL there are a multitude of rules to protect the participants.  There are penalties and fines and, if players take their aggression too far, even suspensions.  It’s all in the interest of player safety and their long-term health, and that’s obviously a good thing, but it’s a modern-day gladiator sport for crying out loud.

The level of violence Dick Butkus got away with in his era makes the silliness Ndamukong Suh has pulled in recent years look like child’s play.

Simply put, the dude was mean.  He came way before my time but thankfully Butkus played recently enough that there is ample video available of the carnage he wrought.  We’re talking iconic, all-time NFL Films images where Butkus annihilates people and may or may not attempt to decapitate them on the field of play.

Apr 30, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago city mayor Rahm Emanuel (left) with Chicago Bears former linebacker Dick Butkus on the gold carpet before the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

I’ll never forget one of the favorite VHS tapes my brothers and I had back in the day called “NFL’s Greatest Hits” and on it they covered all of the great offensive and defensive players up to that point (1992).  There was a segment on Butkus, naturally, and in it Paul Hornung of the Green Bay Packers referred to him as “the meanest SOB” to ever play professional football.

Dick Butkus was an eight-time Pro Bowler and five-time first team All-Pro during his nine-year career, all played with the Chicago Bears.  Despite his individual dominance, however, the Bears never advanced to the playoffs while Butkus was with the team.  Chicago’s overall record from 1965 to 1973 was 48-74-4.

A more recent Bear, Charles Tillman, was known for his ability to strip the football from opposing ball carriers with his “Peanut punch”.  Forced fumbles are not a statistic that was kept while Butkus played, but it was something he was adept at and its likely he would’ve ended his career as one of the all-time leaders had the league been keeping count back then.

Named to numerous all-time NFL lists, Dick Butkus was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and inducted in 1979.  In a long line of great Chicago Bears linebackers, Butkus may just be the best of them all.

Next: The Best Chicago Bears of the 2000s

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