In sad and shocking news, Illinois football legend Dick Butkus passed away on Thursday.
Butkus, 80, left his mark on the game of football at both levels. He was a Hall of Fame player with the Chicago Bears, but he cut his teeth in Champaign playing for the Illini.
With the Illinois football team, Butkus blazed a path for future linebackers. He was one of the greatest players to ever play the college game and was truly one of the best to ever do it.
Here are five reasons Dick Butkus will forever be an Illinois football GOAT
5. Number retired
It is not every day you get someone like Dick Butkus in your program. Illinois has had some special players step foot on Memorial Stadium, but none have been better on the defensive side of the ball than Butkus.
Not all great talent gets their number retired either. A team like Alabama doesn’t have a single number retired despite its great history of winning on the football field.
On the flip side, a program like Kansas has three numbers retired, one of which is Butkus’ former teammate with the Chicago Bears, Gale Sayers. The Kansas Comet had his No. 48 retired in 1989 by the Jayhawks.
The Illinois football program has just two numbers retired and prominently displayed up in the press box and suits at Memorial Stadium. One of those numbers is No. 77 for Red Grange. The Galloping Ghost was a legend and one of the GOATs of the college football world.
The second number that is retired is Butkus’ No. 50. He donned this number in the three seasons on the field, and it will never be worn again. His legacy will forever live on, and the fact he is one of just two players in the long history of the Illinois football program to have his number retired automatically makes him one of the GOATs.