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Ditka, Butkus to appear at draft party

Legendary Hall of Famers Dick Butkus and Mike Ditka are among nearly 20 current and former Bears players who are scheduled to attend the team's annual draft party.

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Mike Ditka won NFL titles with the Bears as a player in 1963 and head coach in 1985.
The 2016 Chicago Bears Miller Lite Draft Party will be held from 4-11 p.m. on Thursday, April 28 at Soldier Field, coinciding with the first round of the NFL Draft.

Other former Bears scheduled to attend the party include Anthony Adams, Jerry Azumah, Johnny Knox, Jason McKie, Nathan Vasher and James "Big Cat" Williams. Current players slated to be on hand are Ka'Deem Carey, Ego Ferguson, Eddie Goldman, Hroniss Grasu, Lamarr Houston, Charles Leno Jr. Jr., Marc Mariani, Cameron Meredith and Marquess Wilson.

The party will feature new combine-themed activities and the opportunity to kick field goals, locker room tours, player autographs and a fireworks show. Attendees of the Miller Lite Draft Party will be able to experience the excitement at Soldier Field while watching NFL Draft coverage on the stadium video boards.

Fans at the event will receive expert draft analysis as well as official souvenirs, and have opportunities to win autographed items and purchase Bears Pro Shop specials.

A limited number of tickets for the event are available to be purchased starting at $25 (plus fees).

Living legend: NFL.com's Elliot Harrison has ranked Butkus as the sixth best defensive player in NFL history.

Selected by the Bears with the third pick in the 1965 draft, Butkus was an intimidating and relentless force who possessed an unrivaled mixture of talent, aggression and hostility. The Chicago native was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1979 in his first year of eligibility.

"The man who defined the middle linebacker position narrowly edges out Ray Lewis and Chuck Bednarik for a spot on this list," Harrison wrote. "Butkus only played nine years, but those nine years are still spoken about from players of the era. Before bad knees wrecked his career, Butkus could move sideline to sideline, get depth and, of course, knock the living crud out of an opponent. He made the Pro Bowl in each of his first eight seasons. That's back when the NFL's all-star game actually meant something."

The top five defenders on Harrison's list are outside linebacker Lawrence Taylor, defensive lineman Reggie White, defensive lineman Bob Lilly, defensive back Ronnie Lott and defensive end Deacon Jones.

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Good cause: Hall of Fame running back Gale Sayers, who was selected by the Bears one pick after Butkus in 1965, is hosting his third annual Kentucky Derby Party May 7.

The event at the Park Tavern in Chicago will run from noon-6 p.m. and benefit the Gale Sayers Foundation. It will include over $10,000 in prizes, a live auction, disc jockey, sports memorabilia, live racing action, celebrities and more.

The Gale Sayers Foundation is dedicated to supporting underserved schools in Chicago who are utilizing innovative and technology-based learning methods to better prepare students for college and/or career.

Click here for more information.

In the ring: WWE superstar Roman Reigns, who defeated Triple H to become the World Heavyweight Champion last Sunday at WrestleMania, wanted to play for the Bears.

Reigns, whose real name is Joseph Anoa'i, was an All-ACC defensive tackle at Georgia Tech who visited Halas Hall in advance of the 2007 NFL Draft.

"I actually came up to Chicago and took a trip," Reigns told CSNChicago.com. "I got to meet the head coach Lovie [Smith] at the time and I was sold. I wanted to be a Chicago Bear immediately. But unfortunately it didn't work out, but we found the right team."

Reigns signed with the Vikings as an undrafted free agent and also spent time with the Jaguars, but he did not appear in a regular-season game. He then played for the Edmonton Eskimos in the Canadian Football League before beginning his pro wrestling career.

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