As we posited in our Kermit “The Killer” Cintron post, men with unusual names can easily develop a reputation for extraordinary toughness, perhaps because only the tough ones make it out of the schoolyard unscathed. As further evidence for this claim, we present today’s subject, who was possibly the meanest, toughest, tackle-you-till-Tuesday-and-eat-you-for-breakfast linebacker of all time. His name is a famous one: Dick Butkus.
Benjamin Franklin was a smart man and honest man – in fact, like all founding fathers, he never lied  – but there was a significant omission in one of his most famous quotes. Now, 223 years later, we can update his now-famous words:
“…but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except:
- 1. Death
- 2. Taxes, and
- 3. When people start listing funny names, they will eventually mention ‘Dick Butkus’ ” – Benjamin Franklin, 1789 .
Why? Because Richard Marvin “Dick” Butkus had a hilarious name, and a dead serious reputation. A good linebacker can tackle most ballhandlers, a great one can tackle almost everyone, but Dick Butkus could level anyone, make them see stars, and strip the ball out of their hands. We’ll never know his true greatness because the “forced fumbles” statistic wasn’t recorded during Butkus’ time, but when he retired, after only nine seasons, his 27 fumble recoveries was an NFL record.
Why did he retire so early? Well, despite Butkus needing surgery on both of his knees, the Chicago Bears propped him up on painkillers and didn’t let him seek a medical opinion from anyone other than the team doctor – because Butkus was such a big attraction they couldn’t let him sit out any games. This is because Dick Butkus is awesome.
So awesome, in fact, that the only way I can describe his awesomeness within any sort of word limit is in bullet form. It’s kind of like Chuck Norris facts, except these are 100% true:
- He has 48 film and TV credits, which doesn’t include his 28 credits appearing “as himself.”
- Though his playing career lasted less than one decade, he was named to two NFL all-decade teams (for the 1960’s and 70’s)
- After his career ended, he forgave the Bears management and served as a color commentator for their radio broadcasts for the 1985 season. That year, the Bears Super Bowl Shuffled to their only Super Bowl title ever.
- He founded the Dick Butkus Foundation, which oversees at least four separate charities –
- I Play Clean, a foundation to fight steroid use in high school athletes
- The Dick Butkus Center for Cardiovascular Wellness, a nonprofit organization to help those at risk of heart disease (a.k.a. “Health – Dick Butkus giveth what he once taketh away”)
- Charity Fight Night, an annual event featuring celebrity boxing, sports memorabilia and artwork auctions, and magic, with all proceeds going to charity.
- The Legends 51 Cabernet Sauvignon Charity Wine, which benefits the Butkus foundation’s I Play Clean program
- I repeat, he sells wine for charity
- A guy named Hub Arkush oversees the 51-member selection committee for the Dick Butkus Award, given to the country’s best linebackers who also demonstrate commitment to their communities.
- Rocky Balboa’s dog is named “Butkus,” despite Balboa’s character being from the home of the rival Philadelphia Eagles
- He singlehandedly helps small businesses go global by making them apologize to him
- In the 1990’s, he promoted the Qwik-Cook Grill – a grill which used newspaper as its main fuel