10 questions for ... Dick Butkus
For more on UI football, read Brian Barnhart's latest chat by clicking here.
10 questions for ...
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.
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.