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Bears players to wear No. 51 jersey patch honoring Dick Butkus


Beginning Sunday and continuing for the rest of the season, Bears players will wear a jersey patch honoring the memory of Hall of Fame middle linebacker Dick Butkus.

The Bears legend, considered by many to be the most ferocious defensive player in NFL history, passed away last Thursday at his home in Malibu, Calif., at the age of 80.

The jersey patch features Butkus' No. 51 inside a football.

"It's been gratifying to hear so many of our current players say in recent days how much they appreciate the Butkus legacy," said Bears Chairman George H. McCaskey. "The purpose of the patch is, every time they pull on the pads they'll take a moment to think about Dick and his approach to the game."


Butkus grew up on the South Side of Chicago and starred at Chicago Vocational High School and the University of Illinois. He was selected by the Bears with the third pick in the first round of the 1965 NFL Draft, one spot ahead of longtime teammate and fellow Hall of Famer Gale Sayers.

Butkus played all eight of his NFL seasons with the Bears from 1965-73 and remains one of the most popular players in franchise history. He was voted to the Pro Bowl in each of his first eight NFL seasons and was also selected as an All Pro in seven of his nine years. He won two NFL Defensive Player of the Year Awards and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1979 – his first year of eligibility.

Butkus was named to the NFL All-Decade Teams for both the 1960s and 1970s, had his jersey retired by the Bears and was voted to the NFL's 75th and 100th Anniversary Teams.

To honor Dick Butkus, take a look at 51 photos of the Hall of Fame linebacker through the years. (Photos by Chicago Bears and AP)