He is the best of middle linebackers, he is the worst of middle linebackers. Last spring the coaches of the old NFL were asked to pretend that they were putting together a team just for the 1970 season and to pick five active players as a nucleus. Dick Butkus of the Chicago Bears (see cover) got nine votes, three more than any other player, making him, if not the best, at least the most-wanted player in the game. Cardinal Coach Charley Winner called him something else earlier this month. After St. Louis beat Chicago 24-3 in an exhibition game, Winner said, "I don't see why a player of his caliber has to do things like that." What Butkus did was to be called for four personal fouls. He can be offensive at times, as at the right, where Butkus is blocking—or, as he prefers, "clobbering"—Willis Crenshaw, who played for St. Louis last year, "on what," Butkus says, "I think is a pass interception. You notice he's face-masking me—my helmet is kind of turned sideways. That's dangerous for a guy to do 'cause I got sharp teeth. Heh, heh." Turn the page for more laughs.
HERE, AGAINST THE GREEN BAY PACKERS, I'M COMING UP TO HELP OUT AND I'M GOING FOR THE BALL. YOU CAN TELL THIS BY MY EYES. A MIDDLE LINEBACKER HAS TO KNOW WHERE THE BALL IS ALL THE TIME, AND HE'S GOT TO LOOK FOR THAT SPLIT SECOND WHEN HE CAN KNOCK IT LOOSE OR GRAB IT AWAY.
ON THIS PLAY (LEFT) I DID GET TO THE BALL. IT'S THE CARDINALS AGAIN, AND I'M KNOCKING IT LOOSE FROM JOHNNY ROLAND. I HAD GRABBED A HOLD OF HIM BY THE JERSEY, AND I'M RIDING HIM DOWN AND PUNCHING THE BALL CLEAR. THAT'S MY HAND DOWN THERE WITH THE TAPE ON IT. IT HELPS IF YOU HAVE A LONG REACH.
IT WAS THE FIRST QUARTER, AND THE CARDS HAD US DOWN 13-0. IF WE COULD BLOCK THE EXTRA POINT WE WOULD NOT NEED A FIELD GOAL LATER. ABOVE, I'M RIDING OVER CENTER BOB DeMARCO AS DICK EVEY (79) ON MY RIGHT IS POPPING IRV GOODE (55) OFF BALANCE AND FRANK CORNISH (73) IS MOVING KEN GRAY (64) TO THE RIGHT TO MAKE THE HOLE. IN THE SECOND PICTURE, I'VE BLOWN PAST BOTH DeMARCO AND GRAY AND AM ABOUT TO VAULT THROUGH THE OPENING INTO RANGE. I KNEW THAT I COULD BLOCK THE KICK, BECAUSE THE KICKER WAS BARELY INTO HIS SWING. BELOW, I'M RIGHT UP THERE. WHAP! IT SURE FEELS GOOD WHEN THAT BALL SLAPS BACK OFF YOUR HANDS.
September 20, 1970
THIS IS A RUNNING PLAY, AND I AM TRYING TO MOVE AROUND DeMARCO AND CRENSHAW AND GET INTO THE FLOW. EVEN A BIG LINEBACKER LIKE MYSELF DOESN'T GIVE AWAY MUCH MUSCLE TO A CENTER LIKE DeMARCO, BUT I WAS ABLE TO MOVE HIM ON THIS ONE. I AM TRYING TO EYE FAKE CRENSHAW TO DRAW HIM TO HIS LEFT SO I CAN GET AROUND HIM AND GO AFTER THE BALLCARRIER. YOU DO THESE THINGS AUTOMATICALLY AFTER A WHILE, BUT A LITTLE CUNNING HELPS.