Chicago Bears Football jersey, worn by Dick Butkus
- Richard Dick Butkus (b. 1942) played football with a ferocity that could intimidate even the toughest of competitors. Following a stellar amateur career at the University of Illinois, Butkus was drafted by his hometown Chicago Bears in 1965. He manned the team’s middle linebacker position for the next nine seasons, earning pro-bowl honors every year except his first and named All-NFL six times.
- Famous for his intensity, Butkus was a ruthless hitter, averaging 120 tackles a season. Possessing exceptional strength and speed, Butkus made game-changing plays across the field, including 22 interceptions and 27 fumble recoveries over the course of his career.
- Butkus’s penchant for hard play took a toll on his body, with a knee injury forcing him to leave the game in 1973. The injury caused friction between the Bears and Butkus, who felt he was intentionally mistreated by team doctors in an attempt to keep him active. In 1975 Butkus took his grievances to court. While he eventually settled the suit, the action publicly exposed tensions between athletes and their employers concerning the health concerns of individual players and a team’s financial interest in keeping star performers on the field.
- Despite the sometimes acrimonious relationship, Butkus, who entered the Football Hall of Fame in 1979, has had his number #51 retired by the Chicago Bears and is acknowledged as one of the team’s greatest players. He has remained in public life following his retirement, helming a charitable foundation and working as a professional actor.
- Currently not on view
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History
- Butkus, Dick
- associated institution
- Chicago Bears
- date made
- Credit Line
- Sports Illustrated gift fund
- Physical Description
- elastic (overall material)
- fabric (overall material)
- overall: 56 in x 36 in; x 142.24 cm x 91.44 cm
- Object Name
- football jersey
- jersey, football