Dick Butkus, NFL Hall of Famer and former Bears linebacker, dies at 80

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Former Chicago Bear and Pro Football Hall of Famer Dick Butkus, considered among the best linebackers to have ever played the game, has died, the team said Thursday. He was 80.

Butkus’ family confirmed he died peacefully in his sleep overnight in Malibu, California, the Bears said in a statement.

“The Butkus family is gathering with Dick’s wife Helen. They appreciate your prayers and support,” the Bears said in a statement.

Butkus, a graduate of the University of Illinois, which he helped lead to a Rose Bowl victory, was a first-round pick by the Bears in the 1965 NFL draft.