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Remembering Hall of Fame linebacker Dick Butkus who died at 80

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

An NFL icon passed away yesterday. Dick Butkus, the Hall of Fame linebacker who played for the Chicago Bears died in his sleep, according to a statement from the family released through the team. He was 80 years old.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Get ready for Dick Butkus, football's doomsday machine.

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

Yeah. Few players inspired more fear on the football field than Butkus.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

CHERYL RAYE-STOUT: He would do anything to make a tackle, do anything to force a fumble, and he would bite you if he had to.

MARTÍNEZ: That's Cheryl Raye-Stout, a reporter for WBEZ in Chicago, speaking last night on All Things Considered. Butkus was described as an animal, a maniac and the meanest, angriest and toughest guy in football. And Stout says the hometown fans loved every second of it.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

RAYE-STOUT: You're talking about somebody that his blood, sweat and tears was here in Chicago. He embodied everything about Chicago.

FADEL: Now, Butkus never won any Super Bowls during his nine-year career, but his legacy was undeniable. In 1979, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on first vote. Butkus stayed busy after his playing days ended. In addition to TV football commentary, he built an acting resume, appearing in shows such as ABC's "Blue Thunder."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "BLUE THUNDER")

DICK BUTKUS: (As Richard 'Ski' Butowski) And I'm going to get us there on time. And if you don't like it, you can stick it in your computerized data bank system.

MARTÍNEZ: In his later years, he brought his insight and humor to X, formerly Twitter. Last month, he posted a picture of himself at the Chicago Bears season opener. Leaning on his cane in the end zone and looking every bit of 80, he captioned the picture somebody give me some pads and a quarterback to tackle.

(SOUNDBITE OF SAM SPENCE'S "SILENT SEASON OF A HERO") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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