Butkus passed away “peacefully in his sleep overnight” in his Malibu, California, home, according to the team.
Dick Butkus was a legend who embodied what it means to be a Chicago Bear. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell issued a statement on Thursday night, too.
“Dick Butkus was a fierce and passionate competitor who helped define the linebacker position as one of the NFL’s all-time greats,” Goodell said. “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.”
Butkus was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979. He was a legend that played in the 1965 Hula Bowl.