Dick Butkus

Dick Butkus' alma mater honors him with jersey-statue tribute

The University of Illinois hung Butkus' No. 50 jersey on their alma mater statue

NBC Universal, Inc.

Ahead of Thursday's Bears-Commanders game, the team and family announced former linebacker Dick Butkus died. He was 80.

The Bears and George McCaskey shared fond remembrances of Butkus. Many prominent NFL figures, including NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, paid tribute to Butkus' memory.

On Friday, Butkus' alma mater --- the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign --- showed their appreciation for Butkus. They hung his retired No. 50 number on their alma mater statue and shared the pictures on social media.

Butkus' No. 50 is one of two retired numbers in Illinois history. His, along with Red Grange's No. 77, are the only two numbers retired by the school.

Butkus' number was retired in 1986, about 22 years after he finished his collegiate career with the Fighting Illini. The school built a statue for him, too, in 2017. Butkus was announced as the first member of the inaugural class of the Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame in 2016.

Butkus went on to play 10 years with the Chicago Bears. He earned two Defensive Player of the Year awards, eight Pro Bowl nods, five All-Pro selections and a Pro Football Hall of Fame induction.

The Bears showed their appreciation for Butkus via social media, too, changing their Twitter (X) avatar to a football with the No. 51 scripted in the middle. Butkus' No. 51 is one of the retired numbers for the Bears, also.

Click here to follow the Under Center Podcast.

Contact Us