Dick Butkus, Legendary Chicago Bears Linebacker, Dead at 80

dick butkus
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Considered one of the greatest defensive players in NFL history, Butkus died peacefully in his sleep, the Bears announced Thursday.

Dick Butkus, a Chicago Bears legend who is regarded as one of the greatest defensive players in league history, has died at the age of 80.

"The Butkus family confirms that football and entertainment legend Dick Butkus died peacefully in his sleep overnight at home in Malibu, California," the Butkus family said in a statement issued through the Bears. "The Butkus family is gathering with Dick's wife, Helen. They appreciate your prayers and support. 

"Additional information will be provided when it is available." 

Butkus had attended the Bears' regular season-opener against the Green Bay Packers. Never one to mince words, Butkus had poked fun at the Lions two just days prior via social media after Detroit's season-opening win over the Kansas City Chiefs. 

The word legend is often used loosely in sports, but not in Butkus' situation. A larger-than-life figure on the football field, Butkus struck fear into opposing offenses throughout his nine-year playing career. He received just about every accolade a player can earn. 

A first-ballot Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee, Butkus was an eight-time Pro Bowler, five-time All-Pro, and a member of two All-Decade teams. In 2019, Butkus was named to the NFL's 100th Anniversary All-Time Team. Butkus' No. 51 has also been retired by the Bears. 

In retirement, Butkus enjoyed success in broadcasting, acting, and as a celebrity endorser. 

Bears chairman George H. McCaskey issued a statement prior to Chicago's game against the Commanders on Thursday night:

This story was originally published to CBS Sports on Oct. 5 at 6:58 p.m. ET.