Chicago Bears Countdown to Kickoff: 51 Days with Dick Butkus

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Dick Butkus becomes perennial All-Pro with Chicago Bears

With the Bears, Butkus became an immediate starter, taking over the reins of the team's middle linebacker position from Bill George, who was the first middle linebacker in NFL history. In his rookie season, Butkus seamlessly made his transition from the college ranks to the pros and was able to start in all 14 of the team's games, where he logged a sack and 12 turnovers. He finished the season with First-Team All-Pro and Pro Bowl nods, as well as finishing as high as second in the Rookie of the Year race.

Believe it or not, Butkus's dominance as a rookie was just a glimpse into his greatness as a professional. As a long, big, and athletic middle linebacker, Butkus quickly gained a reputation as a ball hawk and heavy hitter, as well as generally the best linebacker in the league. The Illini product went on a dominant stretch for nearly a decade, where he was consistently one of the best players in the NFL each year.

Including his rookie season, Butkus started his career off with eight straight Pro Bowl seasons, the best of which came perhaps as a rookie, or maybe in 1969, where he recorded four turnovers, two sacks, and the lone safety of his career en route to being named to the First-Team All-Pro. Throughout his career, Butkus was named to six All-Pro teams, five of which were on the First Team.

Perhaps more impressively than Butkus's accolades were his resiliency and dependability as a player. Over the first eight years of his career, the linebacker only missed two total games, one each in 1968 and '69. Unfortunately, despite Butkus's dominant play for the better part of a decade, the Bears as a unit were only able to post a .500 record or better three times throughout number 51's career, and Butkus never made a postseason appearance as a Bear.