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LOS ANGELES – By the end of 2021, Dick Butkus could barely watch the Bears.

“I got to the point where I was turning it off.”

No remote could spare Butkus from seeing the Rams annihilate his former team in the season opener. He was hosting a fundraiser for his foundation at SoFi that night, watching the Bears 34-14 loss with a look of disgust on his face.

“The reason I looked under the weather there was because of the hassle of getting into that stadium.

“It took nearly an hour to get there because nobody knows what the hell they’re doing.”

Butkus had a similar sentiment for what he was seeing on the field.

“I got pretty hot a couple times. One time in the Green Bay game, too. I felt like texting McCaskey and telling him ‘this is not good.’ They not only were not good, but the effort to me – I don’t know if anybody’s saying they put out the effort – I don’t think they did. I think a lot of those lineman should be arrested for impersonating an offensive lineman.”

His biggest gripe? The lack of protection and development for Justin Fields.

“A friend of mine from another team. I won’t name him. Won’t name the team. But, he said the coaching job that the Bears did with Justin was zero. They looked at the game films all through the course of the year and he said ‘they didn’t coach him at all. That kid was on his own.’

“It just ticked me off. It reminds me of the time when George Halas retired, quit. It was in January. I went over to the office there at 173 W. Madison to get my mail. I asked if I could see the coach. I go in his office.

I said, ‘Who are you going to pick? Who’s the next coach?’

He said, ‘When I figure it out, I’ll let you know.’

I said, ‘You know something? I don’t think you really want to win here.’

He started to get up and I thought, ‘sheesh. He’s going to take a poke at me.’

He said, ‘What did you say?’

I said, ‘I don’t think you want to win here. Listen to me. You started this stuff 50 years ago. Who’s in the Super Bowl?’

He goes, ‘Dallas and Miami or somebody.’

I said, ‘Yeah. Two expansion teams when you should be there.’

The Bears should be there every other year. It’s ridiculous. It’s THE franchise and it’s a joke now.”

Butkus still believes Fields is the guy for the Bears and Roquan Smith is ready to keep the franchise’s legacy of hard-hitting linebackers going strong.

“He’s got the ability and everything else, but what I like about him is he’s got the heart. A lot of times with these players, we don’t have zippers on our chests. You can’t see what kind of heart and desire he has. Even though they played like crap on offense – which you get pretty frustrated on defense because you sit down three downs and then we’re back out there – he never let up.”

Smith is already a member of the Butkus Award winner fraternity. The honor has gone to the best linebacker in the country at the collegiate level since 1985, and in the pros and high school ranks since 2008.

“When it first started down in Orlando, it wasn’t going the way I thought it should have with raising money for charity. In 2008, we took it over. The family took it over. I put down a statement on the trophy itself where I just said, ‘I request the athlete honored here does not flinch from the American tradition of giving back.'”

That tradition has been carried on by each recipient ever since.

“Every one of them is doing something for their community. I don’t see that with the Heisman and all these others.

“It was really refreshing to see we’re doing this the right way and not just celebrating their football accolades. It’s what kind of person they are. That’s what I’m thrilled about.”

Butkus is doing his part to bring more recognition to the cause by jumping on social media with his own, now verified, Twitter account.

“The exposure – I’m telling you it’s unbelievable. I was getting texts from everybody like, ‘what’s going on here?’ It’s fun.”

And so are his tweets, showing a new generation of Bears fans how ruthless The Enforcer can be.