Chicago Bears Countdown to Kickoff: 51 Days with Dick Butkus

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Dick Butkus Retires From NFL and Chicago Bears Legacy

Unfortunately, Butkus developed knee injuries during the latter stages of his career, and his 1973 season was cut short after just nine games. Following the conclusion of the year, Butkus retired from the Chicago Bears at the age of 31. At the time of his retirement, Butkus had accumulated 49 total turnovers, 11 sacks, a safety, and a defensive touchdown in 119 total games. Butkus started all 119 games.

Following Butkus's retirement from the Chicago Bears, the linebacker has been forced to stay close to the game of football via several accolades and awards. In his first year of eligibility, Butkus joined the 1979 Professional Football Hall of Fame class. Just a handful of years later, the Illini product was added to the College Football Hall of Fame.

Shortly after the latter induction, a trophy was set up in Butkus's name that would be awarded annually to the nation's premier collegiate linebacker. Winners of the award include the likes of Luke Keuchly, Patrick Willis, Derrick Thomas, and former Bear Roquan Smith.

In 1994, the team retired Butkus's historic numbered 51 jersey, and also saw his number 50 Illini jersey retired a few years earlier. Butkus joined fellow Bear Red Grange as the only players to have their Illini jerseys retired.

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Recently, Butkus was named to the NFL's 100th Anniversary All-Time Team, not a surprise after being chosen for the 75th Anniversary Team as well as both the 1960s and 1970s All-Decade Teams. Today, Butkus remains close to the game of football through his foundation and serves as an active alumni of both the Chicago Bears and the University of Illinois.