Dick Butkus --- one of the greatest Bears players in franchise history --- died on Thursday. He was 80 years old.
Any and all prominent NFL figures pitched in their well wishes to the family and remembered Butkus with indelible moments from his career. The Bears tacked on a nice tidbit by changing their Twitter (X) avatar to a football with the No. 51 written inside it.
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Chairman George McCaskey released a statement commemorating Butkus on Thursday.
"Dick was the ultimate Bear, and one of the greatest players in NFL history. He was Chicago's son. He exuded what our great city is about and, not coincidently, what George Halas looked for in a player: toughness, smarts, instincts, passion and leadership.
"He refused to accept anything less than the best from himself, or from his teammates. When we dedicated the George Halas statue at our team headquarters, we asked Dick to speak at the ceremony, because we knew he spoke for Papa Bear.
"Dick had a gruff manner, and maybe that kept some people from approaching him, but he actually had a soft touch. His legacy of philanthropy included a mission of ridding performance-enhancing drugs from sports and promoting heart health. His contributions to the game he loved will live forever and we are grateful he was able to be at our home opener this year to be celebrated one last time by his many fans.
"We extend our condolences to Helen, Dick's high school sweetheart and wife of 60 years, and their family."
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell also expressed his condolences.
"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," he said. "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," the statement concluded.