Former NFL DL Dave Butz Dies at Age 72; Member of 1980s All-Decade Team

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVNovember 4, 2022

Dave Butz
AP Photo

Former NFL defensive tackle Dave Butz, who won two Super Bowl titles with Washington, has died at the age of 72.

The team announced the news Friday:

Washington Commanders @Commanders

We're heartbroken over the loss of Washington Legend Dave Butz, a 2x Super Bowl champion and member of our Ring of Fame and 90 Greatest list. Sending our deepest condolences to Dave's family and friends. <a href="https://t.co/ZkxgGoFNwR">pic.twitter.com/ZkxgGoFNwR</a>

Butz, a first-round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1973, joined Washington in 1975 and built a career résumé that included a spot on the NFL's All-Decade Team for the 1980s and a place in the team's Ring of Fame following his 1989 retirement.

The Alabama native enjoyed a standout senior season at Purdue in 1972, earning first-team All-Big Ten and consensus All-American honors to establish himself as a high-end NFL prospect. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2014.

Ahead of his enshrinement, he told Mike Carmin of the Lafayette Journal & Courier the most intriguing aspect of his college recruitment actually came from legendary Kentucky basketball coach Adolph Rupp, a scholarship offer he kept as a souvenir.

"Coach Rupp at Kentucky wanted me to play basketball," Butz said. "I was like 6'7'', 280 [pounds]. I was giving new meaning to the words power forward."

The football thing ended up working out quite well for Butz, who finished third in 1983 Defensive Player of the Year voting during this peak with Washington. He also earned his only Pro Bowl selection that season.

He was ahead of his time as a defensive tackle who could rush the quarterback in addition to slowing down the run game, finishing his career with 64 sacks in 216 career appearances.

BigBlueVCR @BigBlueVCR

1986: Saw the sad news that DT Dave Butz has passed away at age 72. He was so prominent during the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NYGiants?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NYGiants</a> v Washington battles in the 80s as the Skins were a powerhouse &amp; then the Giants matched them. I always think of that battered helmet from the wars in the trenches. RIP <a href="https://t.co/gHYiG9D5PP">pic.twitter.com/gHYiG9D5PP</a>

After his career, Butz responded to critics who suggested he could have made an even bigger impact if he delivered more punishing hits to opposing quarterbacks, per Ken Denlinger of the Los Angeles Times.

"Every quarterback I hit knows I hit him," Butz said. "If you mean do I have the ability to blindside a quarterback or hit him in the middle of the back as he's throwing the ball, I have absolutely no problem with that whatsoever. ... But if I had to hit that quarterback—I could take his legs out from under him, break his legs or whatever—I wouldn't do it. I'd still hit him high."

Former Washington quarterback Joe Theismann, a teammate of the standout tackle from 1975 through 1985, expressed his condolences on Twitter:

Joe Theismann @Theismann7

Lost a dear friend today. Dave Butz. Dave Mark Mosley and I used to ride to games together. A true gentle giant. Rest In Peace my friend.

Butz finished his career with 216 games played across 16 NFL seasons.