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Dick Butkus, Chicago Bears icon, dies at 80

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Chicago Bears icon Dick Butkus dies at 80


Chicago Bears icon Dick Butkus dies at 80

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Bears and all-around NFL legend Dick Butkus has died, the team confirmed Thursday.

“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 is gathering with Dick’s wife Helen. They appreciate your prayers and support.

“Additional information will be provided when it is available.”

Richard Marvin Butkus, who played for the Bears from 1965 until 1973 and was an iconic representative of the team for generations, was 80 years old. Known as the “Maestro of Mayhem,” Butkus was Chicago through-and-through, starring on and off the field.

He died in his sleep overnight in Malibu, California.

Butkus was born Dec. 9, 1942, to a Lithuanian American family in the Fernwood neighborhood on Chicago’s Far South Side. He was the youngest of nine children.

Butkus’ website notes that he already knew he was going to be a professional football player by the time he was in fifth grade.

“I worked hard at becoming one, just like society says you should,” Butkus was quoted on its website. “It (society) said you had to be fierce. I was fierce. Tough. I was tough.”

Butkus became a star football player at Chicago Vocational High School, and at the University of Illinois – where he enrolled in 1961. By his junior year in 1963, he had already made 145 tackles and forced 10 fumbles, his website said.

He led the Fighting Illini to the Big Ten Championship that year – and they finished the season ranked third in the nation, his website said. The Illini beat Washington 17-7 in the Rose Bowl that year.

Butkus was unanimously named All-American in 1964 – playing both sides of the ball a center on offense and a linebacker on defense, his website said. He later had his University of Illinois jersey, No. 50, retired – and is only one of two players to have received such an honor there, his website said.

His impact was so great that the Dick Butkus Award is now annually given to the top college linebacker in the country.

Butkus was drafted into the NFL by the Bears in 1965 – wearing jersey No. 51. He had 11 solo tackles in his first game, his website reported.

Chicago Bears
CHICAGO, IL – CIRCA 1960’s: Dick Butkus #51 of the Chicago Bears before a circa mid 1960’s NFL football game at Soldier field in Chicago, Illinois.

/ Getty Images


Butkus was a top contender for NFL Rookie of the Year that year, but was edged out by his Bears teammate and fellow first-round draft pick Gale Sayers, his website noted.

Butkus’ website said the 6-foot 3-inch, 245-pound powerhouse “terrorized opposing ball carriers and quarterbacks. His mauling style of tackling was worthy of a grizzly bear.”

In his nine-year NFL career, his website said, Butkus recovered 27 fumbles and had 22 interceptions.

Butkus was quoted on his website that his fierceness on the field was a major factor in his success.

“When I went out on the field to warm up, I would manufacture things to make me mad,” he was quoted. “If someone on the other team was laughing, I’d pretend he was laughing at me or the Bears. It always worked for me.”

Injuries began to take a toll on Butkus’ knees by 1970, but he pressed on for three more years – with 117 tackles and 68 assists, three fumble recoveries, and four pass interceptions in 1971, his website said.

When he retired in 1973, Butkus had been named first-team All-NFL for six years, and had been in eight consecutive Pro Bowls, his website said.

Butkus was named the NFL’s 10th best player when the league celebrated 100 years.

After retiring from the NFL, Butkus veered into acting – appearing in a well-known series of Miller Lite ads in which he played “a gentlemanly tennis player who cheerfully debates the beer’s merits with fellow ex-NFL defensive star Bubba Smith,” his website said.

He was also in the movies “Necessary Roughness” and “Any Given Sunday,” and appeared in the TV shows “My Two Dads” and “Hang Time,” his website said.

Just last year, Butkus took over the Bears Twitter feed – posting a couple of videos where he recalled his most memorable moments on the field.

He said his favorite game in which he ever played was a game against the San Francisco 49ers at Wrigley Field – which the Bears shared with the Cubs before they moved to Soldier Field in 1971.

“It’s the day that Gale Sayers scored six touchdowns and did it all different kind of ways – and you know, I was on all the kicking teams except the kickoff team at that point, but you know, we busted him on a punt return. I don’t know if he had a kickoff return or not. But he had six,” Butkus said.

Butkus added that Coach George Halas went on to take Sayers out of the game and replace him with Jon Arnett. If that had not happened, Butkus said, Sayers could have scored seven or more touchdowns.

That game was played on Dec. 12, 1965. Sayers noted it was a rainy day, much like the Bears’ home opener this year.

Future Head Coach Mike Ditka was also on the field as a player for that game – a contemporary Chicago Tribune account notes that he took out 49ers defensive lineman Roland Lakes to help clear the way for the fourth of Sayers’ six touchdowns.

The contemporary Tribune also noted that Johnny Morris took out a 49ers left linebacker to help clear the way in that same play. You may remember Morris as an iconic Chicago sports broadcaster, and specifically as CBS 2 Chicago’s sports director from 1975 until 1992.

The Bears won that game 61-20.

A few years earlier in 2019, Butkus was honored with a 12-foot, 1,000-pound bronze statue outside Memorial Stadium at the University of Illinois.

The Hall of Famer was there to accept the unveiling. He was unfiltered, honest and in typical Dick Butkus fashion, there was absolutely no fluff.

“I deserve it?” asked Butkus. “Maybe the kids today would say it, but it’s a very humbling deal and you wonder why, man? I did what I was supposed to do and sh*t, I had fun knocking the sh*t out of people.”

Butkus had attended the Bears’ regular season-opener against the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field on Sept. 10. 

“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,” Bryan DeArdo of CBS Sports wrote.

Bears Chairman George H. McCaskey released a statement Thursday calling Butkus “the ultimate Bear.”

“He was Chicago’s icon. He exuded what our great city is about and, not coincidentally, what George Halas looked for in a player: toughness, smarts, instincts, passion, and leadership,” McCaskey wrote. “He refused to accept anything les than the best from himself, or from his teammates.”

The NFL also honored Butkus Thursday evening.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell released this statement:

“Dick Butkus was a fierce and passionate competitor who helped define the linebacker position as one of the NFL’s all-time greats. Dick’s intuition, toughness and athleticism made him the model linebacker whose name will forever be linked to the position and the Chicago Bears.

“We also remember Dick as a long-time advocate for former players, and players at all levels of the game. The Dick Butkus Award and his foundation honored achievement on the field and service to the community among high school, college and NFL linebackers. Dick was a champion of clean sports as his ‘I Play Clean’ campaign helped raise awareness about the dangers of steroid use among high school athletes.

“We send our deepest condolences to the Butkus family, the Bears organization and the many fans and people he impacted throughout his life.”

Fighting Illini football Coach Bret Bielema noted that he got to meet Butkus – a childhood idol.

“I am saddened to learn of the passing of Dick Butkus, the greatest linebacker in football history.

“As the head coach of his alma mater that he loved, I had the great honor to meet Dick, one of my childhood idols, last September. He was an amazing person, as well as football player, and a loyal Illini. 

“Dick embodied everything that Illinois football has represented in the past and what we look to represent into the future. His deep love for Illinois football will be honored and remembered forever.”

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Athletic Director Josh Whitman noted that he called Butkus a friend:  

“The Greatest Living Illini has left us.

“Dick Butkus was a giant in a land of giants. In a game built on toughness and tenacity, he stood alone. One of the most imposing figures to ever wear a helmet, away from the field, Dick was self-effacing, humble, and generous. A cultural icon, Dick leaves a legacy on Americana that will never be forgotten.

“On a personal note, the friendship I formed with Dick is something I will always cherish. I am so grateful for the time I was blessed to spend with him and for the many moments that we shared. I will never forget how touched he was when I told him he was the inaugural member of the newly formed Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame, or how emotional he became in learning that we were building a statue in his honor. Nor will I forget dedicating that statue – on a brittle, windy, rainy day that was tailor-made for a ceremony celebrating the toughest man in football.

“We grieve for his loss. We take solace in the many wonderful gifts that Dick gave us, both on the gridiron and in the decades since he left it. On behalf of our entire Illini famILLy, we send our love and condolences to his wife, Helen, and the entire Butkus family, with a reminder that Dick Butkus may be gone, but his memory will live forever at the University of Illinois – a place that he permanently changed with his ferocious heart, his indomitable spirit, and his unshakable loyalty.

“Our University is better, our game is better, and our country is better, all because we were graced by the presence of one Dick Butkus.

“Rest well, my friend.”

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson called Butkus a “legend.”

“We lost a legend today. Dick Butkus was a son of Chicago, who embodied the strength and the tenacity of his hometown with every snap he played on the gridiron. He was a true Monster of the Midway, but also an actor, a commentator and a statesman for all things representing our beloved blue and orange. 

“My heart is with the Butkus family and everyone he impacted throughout a tremendous life and career. He was a giant of a player, and a man, and we will always remember his giant love and dedication to the City of Chicago.”

The Bears took on the Washington Commanders Thursday night. The game will undoubtedly become a tribute to one of the greatest ever to do it.





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How Biden’s decision to end campaign measures historically

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How Biden’s decision to end campaign measures historically – CBS News


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President Biden’s decision to end his reelection campaign is a historic one for many reasons. CBS News’ Robert Costa has more on that.

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Kamala Harris says she intends to “earn and win” Democratic presidential nomination

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Washington — Vice President Kamala Harris said Sunday that she intends to “earn and win” the Democratic presidential nomination after President Biden announced he would be bowing out of the 2024 presidential race and endorsed her for Democratic presidential nominee.

“I am honored to have the president’s endorsement and my intention is to earn and win this nomination,” she said in a statement. “Over the past year, I have traveled across the country, talking with Americans about the clear choice in this momentous election. And that is what I will continue to do in the days and weeks ahead. I will do everything in my power to unite the Democratic Party — and unite our nation — to defeat Donald Trump and his extreme Project 2025 agenda.”

Harris also praised Mr. Biden for his career in public service and said his “remarkable legacy of accomplishment is unmatched in modern American history, surpassing the legacy of many presidents who have served two terms in office.”

“With this selfless and patriotic act, President Biden is doing what he has done throughout his life of service: putting the American people and our country above everything else,” she said.

President Biden Spends Fourth Of July At The White House
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris join hands in the air as they view the fireworks on the National Mall with First Lady Jill Biden and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff from the White House balcony during a 4th of July event on the South Lawn of the White House on July 4, 2024 in Washington, DC. 

Samuel Corum / Getty Images


Mr. Biden announced his decision to end his reelection bid in a letter to the American people posted to social media, writing that he believes it’s in the best interest of the Democratic Party and the country to focus on fulfilling his duties as president for the rest of the term. The president then threw his support behind Harris.

“Democrats — it’s time to come together and beat Trump,” he said on social media. “Let’s do this.”

Mr. Biden was quickly joined by other well-known Democrats, including former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sen. Patty Murray, the highest-ranking woman in the upper chamber, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who announced their support for Harris.

Mr. Biden’s future in the presidential race became unclear following his rocky debate performance last month, which sparked calls from dozens of Democrats for him to step aside. Amid the questions about his fitness for a second term and whether he could defeat former President Donald Trump in November, Harris emerged as the leading contender to replace the president at the top of the Democratic ticket.

Mr. Biden’s decision to step aside comes ahead of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, which kicks off Aug. 19. The party will formally select their nominees for president and vice president at the gathering. 

Harris served as a senator from California before she was elected vice president, becoming the first woman, first Black American and first South Asian American to hold the role.

She has spent the last week on the campaign trail, appearing alongside Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and making stops in Massachusetts, Michigan and North Carolina.



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Democrats line up behind Kamala Harris after Biden drops reelection bid

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Leading Democrats are voicing their support for Vice President Kamala Harris on Sunday as their party seeks a nominee to replace President Biden in the 2024 race, now that he has taken himself out of the running

Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were among the pool of politicians to endorse Harris, after Mr. Biden did the same on the heels of an announcement confirming his decision to withdraw. 

“We join millions of Americans in thanking President Biden for all he has accomplished, standing up for America time and again, with his North Star always being what’s best for the country. We are honored to join the President in endorsing Vice President Harris and will do whatever we can to support her,” the Clintons said in a joint statement

“We’ve lived through many ups and downs, but nothing has made us more worried for our country than the threat posed by a second Trump term. He has promised to be a dictator on day one, and the recent ruling by his service Supreme Court will only embolden him to further shred the Constitution,” their statement continued. “Now is the time to support Kamala Harris and fight with everything we’ve got to elect her. America’s future depends on it.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat who led a presidential campaign of her own in 2020, also issued a statement backing Harris as the party’s potential nominee this year.

“I endorse Kamala Harris for President,” Warren’s statement read. “She is a proven fighter who has been a national leader in safeguarding consumers and protecting access to abortion. As a former prosecutor, she can press a forceful case against allowing Donald Trump to regain the White House. We have many talented people in our party, but Vice President Harris is the person who was chosen by the voters to succeed Joe Biden if needed. She can unite our party, take on Donald Trump, and win in November.”

Mr. Biden’s decision to end his campaign followed weeks of turmoil within the Democratic Party over whether he would be able to serve another term, since his disastrous performance at the presidential debate in June opposite his Republican rival, former President Donald Trump, called into question his fitness to lead. He endorsed Harris shortly after issuing a statement on Sunday afternoon that confirmed, despite previous pushback from Mr. Biden’s campaign team against public calls for him to step aside, that he is no longer pursuing reelection. 

“My very first decision as the party nominee in 2020 was to pick Kamala Harris as my Vice President,” Mr. Biden said a social media post. “And it’s been the best decision I’ve made. Today I want to offer my full support and endorsement for Kamala to be the nominee of our party this year. Democrats — it’s time to come together and beat Trump. Let’s do this.” 

Sen. Patty Murray, of Washington, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, of Minnesota, have also endorsed Harris. Other powerful Democratic figures, like former President Barrack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, commended Mr. Biden in the wake of the withdrawal but did not endorse Harris outright. Obama released a lengthy statement responding to the announcement, in which he praised the president — his former vice president — as “a patriot of the highest order” and “one of America’s most consequential presidents.”

Mr. Biden cannot appoint a Democratic nominee to fill his spot in the presidential race. Whoever is ultimately chosen will be determined through a vote by the delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, which was set to happen virtually before next month. It isn’t clear whether those plans will change in light of Mr. Biden leaving the race, but the convention is scheduled to begin Aug. 19.





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