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 remained in public life following his retirement, helming a charitable foundation and working as a professional actor.

Date Made: 1973

Wearer: Butkus, DickAssociated Institution: Chicago Bears

Location: Currently not on view

Worn: United States: Illinois, Chicago

Name Of Sport Or Game: FootballLevel Of Sport: ProfessionalWeb Subject: Sports


See more items in: Culture and the Arts: Sport and Leisure


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Sports Illustrated gift fund

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 1981.0706.07Accession Number: 1981.0706Catalog Number: 1981.0706.07

Object Name: Jerseyfootball jerseyjersey, football

Physical Description: elastic (overall material)fabric (overall material)Measurements: overall: 56 in x 36 in; x 142.24 cm x 91.44 cm


Record Id: nmah_675828

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