All-american At Illinois
Butkus made first-team All-America his final two college seasons. In 1963, he made 145 tackles and forced ten fumbles as Illinois won the Big Ten championship and earned a No. 3 ranking nationally after a 17-7 victory over Washington in the Rose Bowl. In 1964, the National Football Coaches Association honored Butkus as the best player in the country; Butkus also finished third in the voting for the prestigious Heisman Trophy.
"If every college football team had a linebacker like Dick Butkus, all fullbacks would soon be three feet tall and sing soprano," Dan Jenkins wrote in Sports Illustrated. "Dick Butkus is a special kind of brute whose particular talent is mashing runners into curious shapes."
The Bears, selecting third, took Butkus in the first round of the 1965 National Football League draft while the Denver Broncos of the upstart American Football League made Butkus their second pick. (The AFL and NFL merged a few years later). Playing in his home-town, in the more established NFL and with four-year,
$200,000 contract was too much for Butkus for refuse. It was a vintage draft for Chicago, which also had the fourth overall pick and took running back Gale Sayers, who also had a Hall of Fame career.
- Dick Butkus - Ferocious Fixture For Bears
- Dick Butkus - Yearned For Football Career
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