The sports world was saddened Thursday evening with the announcement of the passing of Chicago Bears legend Dick Butkus. One of the best linebackers to ever play the game, Butkus was not only one of the greatest Bears ever but one of the most beloved Chicago sports figures of all time. The Hall of Famer was an eight-time Pro Bowler and five-time All Pro during his celebrated career.
Butkus played for his hometown Bears from 1965-1973. His initial six seasons coincided with the final years of the Bears and Cubs sharing Wrigley Field, before the Bears made their transition to Soldier Field in 1971. This was an era in which Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Ron Santo, Fergie Jenkins, Gale Sayers and Butkus all called Wrigley Field home. One month, Santo would be making a diving catch at third and the next Butkus would be putting a brutal hit on a helpless quarterback in the same spot.
As the two teams would share Wrigley, the players on each side would get to know each other as well. After the passing of Butkus, Jenkins posted a tribute to him on Twitter with a picture of him, Butkus, Williams and Dutchie Caray at Wrigley together.
Butkus was far and away the most intimidating athlete to grace The Friendly Confines. He played with an intensity that was simply unmatched. While most of the Bears teams he played on were not very good, people would still fill the freezing cold Confines to watch him play.
Wrigley Field, longtime home of the Cubs, bore witness to plenty of Dick Butkus, Chicago Bears history
It is often overlooked how much NFL history occurred at the corner of Clark and Addison. Fewer people today remember what it was like to sit in the Wrigley grandstands or old bleachers watching the Bears, it's been over 50 years since the move from the North Side to the lakefront.
Next time you are at Wrigley Field, look down at the field itself and remember that was once where Butkus crushed his opponents on the gridiron. It would make a lot of sense for the Cubs to have some kind of honor for him next year. Rest in peace, Dick Butkus.