Reaction to the death of Chicago Bears great Dick Butkus:

“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 coincidentally, 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.” – Bears chairman George McCaskey.

“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.” – NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

“Near universally, Dick Butkus, a hometown hero in Chicago, was considered the person who defined the position of middle linebacker. He established a level of production and intensity few have matched. USA Today once called him the ‘gold standard by which other middle linebackers are measured.’ Playing in an era when middle linebacker became one of the game’s glamour positions – and several of Dick’s contemporaries also would end up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame – his name most often was cited first as the epitome of what it took to excel at the highest level. Our thoughts and prayers are with Dick’s wife Helen and their entire family. We will preserve his legacy for generations to come.” – Pro Football Hall of Fame President Jim Porter.

“I just learned of the passing of ChicagoBears LB Dick Butkus. My favorite all-time player. I grew up with a poster of Butkus on my wall, and he signed it for me on the one occasion we met. A true legend. #RIPDickButkus” – Pro wrestling great Mick Foley.

“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.” – Illinois coach Bret Bielema.

“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.” – Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman.

“Dick was a football player personified. He played the game the way it’s supposed to be played. He will be missed by all the Chicago Bear family. RIP my friend!” – Former Bears quarterback Jim McMahon.

“A legend of the game & part of what makes the NFL’s oldest rivalry so special. Sending our condolences to the family & friends of Dick Butkus & the entire ChicagoBears organization” – Green Bay Packers.

“Dick Butkus was not only a Legend, he was my Idol. Loved his Frankness, Toughness, and the Inspiration he was for me! You set the Standard for the role of a MLB! Love you Dick” – Former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher.

“Dick Butkus wasn’t just one of the greatest football players to ever play the game, he was a remarkable man. He was always there for me when I needed him. Now, these 3 #Bears legends are in heaven, sharing a drink, getting ready to watch the #TNF game from the best seats. Here’s to you, thedickbutkus. Your spirit will live on forever.” – Jarrett Payton, son of the late Bears running back Walter Payton.