Over the past three months, thousands of fans voted in our "Team For the Ages" contest to construct the best imaginable 50-man roster from the NFL’s modern era, which began in 1967. The votes have been counted, and we’re unveiling one player each weekday between now and the kickoff of the 2018 NFL season.
Bears LB Dick Butkus
They say there is nothing as certain in life as death and taxes, but Chicago Bears Hall Of Fame linebacker Dick Butkus being named to any and every all time NFL team selected is certainly in the hunt.
Butkus is considered by many to be the greatest defensive player in the history of the game and after being drafted in the first round of the 1965 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears, one selection ahead of fellow Bears Hall Of Famer Gale Sayers, Butkus went on to dominate the NFL for the first seven seasons of the Modern Era making him a unanimous selection to our Pro Football Weekly Team For The Ages.
Butkus also became well known as a movie, sitcom and TV commercial actor after his playing career was cut short by devastating knee injuries making him one of the best known players in the history of the game.
Full disclosure here, Dick was also my broadcast partner and became a dear friend as we served as co-color commentators doing Bears games on the Bears Radio Network from 1991-94 and became and remains a dear friend.
They said it
Butkus perhaps described himself better than any analyst could once saying, "There’s only one thing I’ve ever wanted to do. Play pro football. Everyone seems to be made for something, and I’ve always felt that playing football was the thing I was supposed to do. I love the game.”
None other than the Papa Bear and co-founder of the National Football League, George Halas, once signed a copy of his own autobiography to Butkus, “To Dick Butkus, the greatest player in the history of the Bears. You had that old zipperoo.”
For his day Butkus was as big as most defensive linemen at 6-3, 245 pounds, as fierce as they come and yet a remarkable athlete before the knee injuries took their toll.
He was a four-down ‘backer who retired with a then NFL record 25 fumble recoveries but also notched 22 interceptions and was a six-time All Pro who went to eight straight Pro Bowls.
Selecting a single greatest game is impossible as Butkus stood out every time he took the field, but on Nov. 9 of his most disappointing season (1969) in which the Bears were 1-13, Butkus single-handedly shut down the Detroit Lions recording 25 tackles to lead the Bears to their lone win of the season.