We remember the gentle giant and his contribution to football throughout his life and career
On November 4, 2022, the team spokesman for the Washington Commanders verified the rumors of the passing of All-American defensive tackle legend Dave Butz. He was a star player for the Washington side from 1973. Dave was 72 at the time of his death.
Dave was one of the top 90 players in team history. He was also named to the NFL 1980s All-Decade Team at their 70th anniversary earlier in the year. His death was a shock to many people, and he received a flood of heartwarming messages from fans and players. The Gentle Giant was a force to be reckoned with; his name is featured on the Ring of Fame at FedExField.
Who was Dave Butz?
From 1973 to 1988, Dave Butz was among the largest players in the NFL. Standing at 6’8″ and weighing around 300 pounds for the majority of his career, he was a football giant, especially in the 1980s, when he was always the biggest man on the field. Dave’s form was impressive at his age, which was a testament to his excellent health and quick healing from injuries. In his 16-year career, he was instrumental in helping the Redskins reach the Super Bowl three times, and they won twice. The first win was in 1982, and the second time was in 1987. He retired a year later, in 1988, when he was the oldest starting player in the NFL.
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David Butz was born on a farm in LaFayette, Alabama, on June 23, 1950. He moved to the suburbs of Chicago, where he played football at Maine South High School in Illinois. There, he was a two-time high school All-American champion. He was a well-rounded sportsman and often received recognition for his skills. Dave was also a record-setting Illinois High School discus champion and an outstanding basketball player. His basketball skills even landed him scholarship offers as well. Ultimately, he chose to follow his passion for football and played college football for Purdue University, where he was named a 1972 finalist for the Lombardi Award. He was also a first-team “All-Big Ten” member, which then allowed him to participate in both the East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl, where he was named the defensive MVP.
Butz was drafted as the fifth overall pick in the 1973 NFL Draft’s first round. He went to the St. Louis Cardinals, where he played for two seasons until 1975. A mistake in his contract granted him free-agent status, and George Allen, who was the Redskins coach at the time, quickly signed him. This was controversial since the NFL mandated that the Redskins provided the Cardinals with two first-round draft picks each in 1977 and 1978, as well as a second-round pick in 1978, as recompense. Dave’s career saw him play 16 seasons, record 64 sacks, and play in 216 regular-season games, only missing 4 games.
His reluctance to miss games led him to a famous and interesting story. In October 1987, he checked out of the hospital to participate in the Redskins’ game with the New York Jets. Even though he wasn’t yet back to peak health, he made a game-saving sack of Ken O’Brien, which stopped the Jets’ drive towards the end of the game and saw him receive the game ball. As soon as the game was over, he checked himself back into the hospital.
Dave Butz Accomplishments
- NFL defensive player for the year 1983
- Inducted into the St Louis Hall of Fame in 2017
- 2 Super Bowl rings XVII and XXII, 1982 and 1987 and 1 runner up award
- Elected as one of the 70 Greatest Redskins in franchise history
- A part of the NFL 1980s All-Decade Team.
- Purdue Boilermakers’ Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame – 2004,
- Purdue’s All-Time Football team in 2004
- 2014 election to the College Football Hall of Fame.