10 questions for ... Dick Butkus

10 questions for ... Dick Butkus

For more on UI football, read Brian Barnhart's latest chat by clicking here.

10 questions for ...
dick butkus

These days, the former Illini legend is tackling steroids instead of tailbacks with his I Play Clean campaign. Teaming with Charity Wines, the Hall of Famer in November will release his own wine: Legends 51 Cabernet
Sauvignon, with all proceeds going to The Dick Butkus Foundation.
Butkus was kind enough to get back to sports editor JIM ROSSOW
via e-mail to discuss his new venture, steroid abuse among
teenagers and Ron Zook's Illini:

I think of you more as a beer guy. Why wine?

Red wine is good for your heart.

What food does it go best with?

Meat. Good wine and good meat are the basis of a great meal.

What's more fun, making a difference with The Dick Butkus Foundation or sacking a quarterback?

My knees won't let me play football, so I'll have to say the foundation.

Why did you take up the fight against steroids?

When I filmed a reality show, I learned steroids were reaching high school. Then, my cardiologist showed me his research on bodybuilders who used steroids - they had hearts that were 30 years older than they should be. But the clincher was speaking with parents who had lost children to steroids. I finally decided it was time to speak out, and it needed to start with guys from my era when steroids weren't around. So, my son Matt and I started the I Play Clean campaign.

How serious of a problem do you think it has become?

The latest research suggests that a half-million teens experimented with steroids in the past 12 months. What's more, our friends at Old Spice learned that 85 percent of teens had never received any formal education about steroids. We're going to have to educate and make it cool to play clean.

Steroids weren't a problem when you played. How did you get so strong?

We really just focused on playing hard. There's so many more tools today, including all sorts of training techniques and sports nutrition like those EAS Myoplex bars and shakes. We didn't have all those tools, so we just played hard and played with attitude.

If you were baseball commissioner, what would you do with Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, etc?

I really don't pay attention to them. My focus is on youth. Teens have a lifetime of good health ahead of them if they eat well, train hard and play with attitude, and if they don't ruin their bodies with steroids. Steroids are not a shortcut. Plus, do you really want to be labeled as a cheater for the rest of your life?

Is there enough time for Illinois to get it turned around this season?

Illinois has a tough season ahead of them. But these days I'm keeping my eye on linebackers nationwide at the high school, college and pro levels. We honor top linebackers at each level with a Butkus Award. The candidates are at www.thebutkusaward.com.

In a News-Gazette poll following the unveiling of the Red Grange statue outside Memorial Stadium, we asked who should be the next former Illini honored. Your name was the overwhelming choice. What are your thoughts?

Red Grange's statue is just fine by itself. Let's leave it that way.

Anything else?

I would consider it a greater honor if people helped me get this steroid problem resolved once and for all. They should take the pledge at www.iplayclean.org. I'm also grateful that Charity Wines will donate a portion of all proceeds to the Butkus Foundation. You can help us out while choosing excellent wines.

Categories (3):Illini Sports, Football, Sports

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TotalIlliniFan wrote on October 02, 2009 at 8:10 am

Not much interest from Butkus in the current team and coach based on this answer. Surprised?

GlenM wrote on August 27, 2013 at 2:08 am


walerius4 wrote on October 02, 2009 at 9:10 am

"Not so total illinifan" You obviously can read between the lines! or maybe, not so obvious. It sounds as if DB has his priorities straight. He is focused in on steroid use and maybe he just doesn't pay alot of attention to the Illini?? Try and keep your guessing to yourself. I bet your co-workers just love your high opinion of your self....

ArreliousBennHidin wrote on October 02, 2009 at 10:10 am

walerius4, i gotta agree with totalillinfan on this one, which is rare because totalillinifan seems to be anything but an illini fan on most threads

Do you really believe Butkus doesn't follow Illini football? I'm sure like the rest of us he's sick of seeing us play without heart, or as he would say without attitude.