Here’s why the Bears players are wearing a No. 51 patch

Here’s why the Bears players are wearing a No. 51 patch originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

In a show of respect for the legendary Dick Butkus, the Chicago Bears players will don a No. 51 patch on their jerseys throughout the entire 2023-24 season.

The announcement regarding the patches coincided with the Bears’ plans to pay tribute to Butkus during their upcoming home game at Soldier Field against the Minnesota Vikings.

Throughout the game, the organization will honor Butkus in various ways, including the display of his retired No. 51 jersey on the field. There will also be an on-field graphic located on the northwest 10-yard line.

Additionally, here are some other ways the Bears plan to honor the late Dick Butkus, with opportunities for fan participation.

Fans can join in commemorating Dick Butkus by visiting and clicking on the header “Tap here to Tribute.”

Located in the South Courtyard of Soldier Field (Gate 1), there will be a dedicated memorial space honoring Butkus. Fans can visit this area to celebrate his lasting legacy and receive a commemorative Butkus button (while supplies last).

Gate 7 will feature a locker room display showcasing a Butkus-themed locker, paying homage to his iconic white jersey.

Additional No. 51 representations can be found in the Ultimate Tailgate area (memorial graphic signage), the Fan Zone (large football signage), and United Club 100 (bobblehead).

On October 5, the Bears and Butkus’ family announced that the beloved football legend had passed away peacefully in his sleep at the age of 80. Butkus had an illustrious career, earning eight Pro Bowl selections, five All-Pro honors, and induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Bears retired his No. 51 jersey, and he remains one of the team’s most iconic figures.

Prior to his NFL career, Butkus made a name for himself as a defensive star at the University of Illinois, becoming one of only two players to have their numbers retired by the university.

“Dick was the ultimate Bear, and one of the greatest players in NFL history. He was Chicago’s son. He embodied the spirit of our great city, which is exactly what George Halas sought in a player: toughness, intelligence, instinct, passion, and leadership,” said Bears Chairman George McCaskey in a statement.

“The Butkus family confirms that football and entertainment legend Dick Butkus died peacefully in his sleep overnight at home in Malibu, California,” a statement read. “The Butkus family is gathering with Dick’s wife Helen. They appreciate your prayers and support. Additional information will be provided when it is available.'”

Butkus played ten seasons with the Bears after being drafted in the 1965 NFL Draft. He exemplified a ferocious approach combined with exceptional skill, participating in and starting 119 games. His impressive career stats include 22 interceptions, 27 fumble recoveries, 11 sacks, one touchdown, and one safety.

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