Fighting Illini to Honor Legendary Linebacker Dick Butkus


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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – The Fighting Illini will honor their most legendary alumni, Dick Butkus, with a helmet homage during tonight’s Nebraska football game. 

The esteemed linebacker passed away peacefully in his Malibu home on October 5, 2023, at 80 years old.

Throughout his illustrious career, Butkus secured his place as a football titan. From leading the Fighting Illini to the 1963 Big Ten title and Rose Bowl victory to his unforgettable nine-year stint with the Chicago Bears, Butkus’s prowess on the field was unparalleled. He remains a football icon, immortalized by the Butkus Award given annually to the nation’s top linebacker.

Illinois’ Head Football Coach, Bret Bielema, and Director of Athletics, Josh Whitman, expressed profound sorrow at the passing of this football legend. Reminiscing about Butkus, Whitman said, “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,” emphasizing the linebacker’s unmatched spirit both on and off the field.


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