Chicago, IL, July 19, 2000 — Vince McMahon, Basil DeVito and Ken Valdiserri introduced Dick Butkus as the head coach of XFL Chicago today! The Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker is the first head coach hired by the eight-team league. “Chicago is one of America’s premier sports towns and richly deserves to have a head coach of Dick’s regional and national stature,” said Valdiserri.
“We’re thrilled to have one of professional football’s most accomplished all-time players taking the reins here in Chicago,” said Ken Valdiserri, VP/GM of the XFL-Chicago team. “Dick Butkus’ personality and his style as a player is what we’re looking for in the XFL. Chicago is one of America’s premier sports towns and richly deserves to have a head coach of Dick’s regional and national stature.”
“I’m excited to have the opportunity to return to the game of pro football,” said Butkus. “The XFL is going to be an extremely competitive league. This is a unique challenge which I’m approaching with the same amount of energy that I had during my playing days.”
Born December 9, 1942, into a large Lithuanian family on Chicago’s southside, Butkus became obsessed with the idea of a pro-football career while still in grade school. He devoted his entire adolescence and young manhood toward achieving that goal. He chose his schools, his summer employment and his friends with that in mind.
When it came to college, he selected the University of Illinois because he liked the program that the new coach, Pete Elliot, was organizing. The deciding factor, however, may have been one of the few non-football considerations in his life. Because he was contemplating marriage, he eliminated Notre Dame when he learned that the school banned married players. Today, he and his wife Helen, his high school sweetheart, live with their three children in Malibu, CA. He will now have a part time home in Chicago.
It was inevitable that injuries would eventually challenge someone who threw himself so completely into a contact sport such as football. In Butkus’ case, it was a right knee that was injured first in 1970. Off-season surgery was only partially successful and he played in pain for the next two seasons. In 1973, for the first time, Butkus took himself out of the game because the pain was too great to bear. A few weeks later he walked off the field for the last time. His accomplishments were prodigious and he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979.
Off the field, Butkus’ football broadcasting career has included roles as game analyst or commentator for University of Illinois football, the New Orleans Saints, the Chicago Bears, ESPN and NFL Today on CBS.
An accomplished comedic and dramatic actor, Butkus has appeared in 13 major motion pictures and seven television series. Among his television credits are over 20 episodic appearances in shows such as The Rockford Files, Magnum P.I., Murder She Wrote, Saturday Night Live and Coach. Butkus has also performed in over 200 television commercials.
The all-time great also gives considerable money and time to charitable causes. Among many acknowledgements, Butkus has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles for his contribution to the community and profession.