Former Washington defensive lineman Dave Butz, who played 16 seasons in the NFL, died at the age of 72, the franchise announced on Friday.
Dave Butz : Obituary | Washington Redskins | Death
Butz played college football at Purdue University, where he was a 1972 finalist for the Lombardi Award.
He was a first-team All-Big Ten member and played in both the East-West Shrine Game and Senior Bowl, where he was named the Defensive MVP.
Butz was drafted in the first round (fifth overall) of the 1973 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals, where he would play for two seasons. Redskins coach George Allen gave the Cardinals two first-round draft picks and a second-rounder for the right to Butz.
Dave Butz Obituary
All-Pro defensive lineman and two-time Washington Super Bowl champion Dave Butz has died. He was 72.
A spokesman for the Washington Commanders confirmed that Butz’s family informed the team about his death Friday. It was not immediately known where Butz died or the cause of his death.
His Obituary details are not confirmed yet.
Butz spent 14 of his 16 NFL seasons with Washington after breaking into the league with the St. Louis Cardinals, where he played his first two years (1973 and 1974).
As one of the league’s biggest players at the time at 6-foot-8 and nearly 300 pounds, he was a key part of Washington’s defense for the franchise’s first two Super Bowl-winning teams in the 1982 and 1987 seasons.
The fifth overall pick out of Purdue in 1973, Butz was an All-Pro selection in 1983 and finished second in voting for AP Defensive Player of the Year when he started all 16 games for Washington and had 11½ sacks. He also made the Pro Bowl that season.
Butz retired after the 1988 season, is a member of Washington’s Ring of Fame and was chosen as one of the organization’s 90 greatest players earlier this year when the team commemorated its 90th anniversary.
Dave Butz Washington Redskins
In 1975 Butz was granted free agency due to a mistake in his contract that he signed as a rookie in 1973. Allen quickly signed him, but the NFL ruled that the Redskins had to pay the Cardinals 2 first-round picks (1977 & 1978) and a second-round pick (1979).
Butz then played for the Washington Redskins for 14 years, where he had three Super Bowl appearances.
He ranks third in franchise history in sacks (59.5) and was a one-time Pro Bowler in 1983 in a season in which he got eleven sacks, a career-best. He only missed four games in his entire 16-year career.
Butz was among the largest players in the NFL when he played standing 6’8″ and routinely weighing around 300 pounds.
At the victory parade following the Redskins win in Super Bowl XXII, Butz famously shouted to the crowd, “We came, we saw, we kicked their butz.”
In October 1987, Butz famously checked himself out of the hospital to play in the Redskins’ game against the New York Jets.
Despite having dropped from 313 to 287 pounds due to the illness and feeling dizzy in the second half, Butz made a game-saving sack of Ken O’Brien to stop a Jets’ drive late in the game and was awarded the game ball.
After the game, he checked himself back into the hospital where he remained until the following Wednesday.
Butz was born in Alabama in 1950. He played high school football at Maine South High School in Park Ridge, Illinois, where he was two-time high school All-American.
He also played basketball and was the Illinois High School discus champion, setting a state record.
Also in the early 2000s, Butz served as a board member for the National Rifle Association.
Butz lived in Fairfax, Virginia. He was the nephew of Earl Butz, who served as United States Secretary of Agriculture under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford; his uncle held the Cabinet post during Butz’s first season in Washington.
Butz died on November 4, 2022, at the age of 72.