Former Chicago Bears Linebacker Dick Butkus Has Died Following a Medical Emergency

Chicago Bears legend Dick Butkus is dead at the age of 80, leading many to wonder what the former linebacker's cause of death was.


Oct. 6 2023, Published 10:45 a.m. ET

Dick Butkus at the Chicago Bears vs. the Philadelphia Eagles game on Jan. 6, 2019
Source: Getty Images

The Gist:

  • Former Chicago Bear NFL legend Dick Butkus died at age 80 after paramedics responded to a "medical emergency" at his house.
  • His exact cause of death is unknown, but tributes to Dick have poured in since the news of his death first broke.
  • Dick was a legendary linebacker for the Chicago Bears.
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On Oct. 5, 2023, news broke that Dick Butkus, the legendary former linebacker for the Chicago Bears, had died at the age of 80. A statement from the Chicago Bears confirmed the news, writing that Dick had died "peacefully in his sleep" at his home in Malibu, Calif.

Dick was twice recognized by his peers as the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year, and was widely regarded as one of the fiercest and most intimidating linebackers in the history of the league. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979, and will live on as a Chicago legend indefinitely.

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Dick Butkus talking into a mic at Super Bowl LVII.
Source: Getty Images

What was Dick Butkus's cause of death?

Prior to the news of his death, TMZ had reported that paramedics had been called to Dick's house to respond to a "medical emergency" on October 5. The exact nature of that emergency remains unclear, as does his ultimate cause of death. Given the statement from the Bears, it seems like Dick died in his sleep and passed quickly, although his death was likely unexpectedly.

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Source: Twitter/@ChicagoBears

Following the news of Dick's death, legends from across the world of sports paid tribute to him and the legacy he left on the field. Everyone from Magic Johnson to current NFL athletes discussed what an inspiration Dick had been to them. Although he was 80, Dick was hosting a podcast about sports and life, and his most recent post didn't suggest that he was at all concerned about his health.

“Dick was the ultimate Bear, and one of the great players in NFL history. He was Chicago’s son," current Bears chairman George H. McCaskey said in a statement on Twitter. “He exuded what our great city is about and, not coincidently, 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.”

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