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Helen Essenberg
By LISA SMITH 252 views

Meet Helen Essenberg – Wife of Football Legend Dick Butkus

Have you heard of Dick Butkus, the football legend? Well, behind every great man is a great woman, and that’s Helen Essenberg. She’s Dick’s wife, and she’s amazing! Let’s get to know her better and find out how she’s been a rock for Dick through thick and thin. Ready to hear their story? Let’s go!

Birth, Parents, and Education

Helen Essenberg, known for her marriage to the football legend Dick Butkus, was born in August 1942 in Chicago, Illinois. She is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Essenberg. For her education, Helen attended a local high school in her hometown and later advanced her studies at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.


Helen Essenberg is known mostly because she’s married to Dick Butkus, the famous football player. But she’s much more than just a wife. She went to college and got a degree to become a teacher. After that, she decided to focus on her family and help her husband with his charity work.

Helen Essenberg helped Dick with his foundation, which gives scholarships to young athletes and also recognizes the best football players. She didn’t seek the spotlight and chose to support her family quietly.

Even though she didn’t have a big public career, her work at home and with the Butkus foundation was very important. It’s like she was the coach of their family team, making sure everyone was taken care of and that Dick could do his best work too.

So, even though we don’t hear about her career much, Helen played a big role in her family and in helping others through the foundation. She’s been a teacher, a supporter, and a big part of the charity work that Dick does.

Love Story of Helen and Dick

The love story of Helen and Dick Butkus is one of those classic high school sweetheart tales. They first met in high school and their relationship flourished as they both continued their education at the University of Illinois. In 1963, they decided to seal their love by getting married.

Following their marriage, Helen and Dick were fortunate enough to have three children: two sons named Ricky and Matt, as well as a daughter named Nikki.

Their marriage was a journey of love, support, and shared dreams, lasting over 60 years until Dick’s passing in October, 2023.


Dick and Helen Butkus have three children, each of whom has carved out their own path in life. Their son, Ricky Butkus, took after his father and ventured into the world of football.

He later transitioned into a career as a sports agent, representing athletes and helping them navigate their professional journeys.

Their second son, Matt Butkus, chose a different route and went into business. While not much is publicly known about his specific endeavors, it’s clear that he pursued a path outside of the sports spotlight, building a career in the corporate world.

Their daughter, Nikki Butkus, explored the field of journalism. She has made her mark as an author, contributing to the literary world with her writing.

Nikki’s work as an author signifies her creative spirit and her ability to tell stories, much like her father did on the football field, but with a pen instead of a pigskin.

Dick Butkus: Husband

Dick Butkus is a name that resonates with power and dominance in the history of American football. Born on December 9, 1942, in the bustling city of Chicago, Illinois, Dick was the youngest of eight children in a family that cherished the values of hard work and determination.

From an early age, Dick was a standout athlete, particularly in football. He attended Chicago Vocational High School, where he honed his skills on the gridiron. His prowess on the field was not limited to defense; he also played fullback, showcasing his versatility and raw athletic talent.

Following an outstanding performance in high school, Dick Butkus chose to attend the University of Illinois to continue his athletic career. He quickly established himself as a formidable linebacker for the Fighting Illini. Throughout his college tenure, he received numerous honors and recognition, such as being named a consensus All-American in both 1963 and 1964.

His senior season was particularly impressive, as he finished third in the voting for the Heisman Trophy—a rare feat for a defensive player.

Butkus’s impact on the field was immediate and profound. In 1963, he guided the Illini to triumph in the Rose Bowl and was recognized as the top player in the Big Ten Conference.

He concluded his college career by earning the title of Lineman of the Year in college football for 1964.

The Chicago Bears selected Dick Butkus in the first round of the 1965 NFL draft, and he quickly established himself as one of the league’s most feared defenders.

He played for the Bears from 1965 to 1973, during which he was selected for eight Pro Bowls and achieved first-team All-Pro status six times.

Butkus was twice recognized as the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 1969 and 1970, further cementing his legacy as a defensive powerhouse.

Butkus was well-known for his aggressive style of play, which involved intense tackling and relentless pursuit of the ball carrier.

He had a reputation for being able to forcefully strip the ball from opponents during tackles, resulting in numerous turnovers.

Throughout his career, he amassed 1,020 tackles, 22 interceptions, and 27 fumble recoveries, making him an NFL record-holder for defensive players at the time of his retirement.

After his illustrious career on the field, Dick Butkus transitioned to roles as a sports commentator and actor, bringing his larger-than-life personality to the screen and continuing to influence the game he loved.

Dick Butkus’s legacy is not only preserved in the record books but also in the hearts of football fans who witnessed his tenacity and passion for the game. The Chicago Bears retired his jersey number 51 and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979.

The Butkus Award, presented to the outstanding collegiate linebacker of the year, is named in his honor, serving as a testament to his enduring impact on the sport of football.

Social Media Presence

Helen Butkus prefers a life away from the spotlight and does not have a public social media presence. On the other hand, her late husband, Dick Butkus, was active on social media platforms.

He had a verified Facebook account with over 155k followers and a Twitter account with over 193.6 k followers.

He also had an Instagram account, though it had fewer followers compared to his other social media profiles.

Dick Butkus enjoyed sharing his thoughts on sports, healthy living, and life with his followers until his passing in 2023.

Net Worth

Helen Essenberg net worth is not publicly disclosed, and she has kept details about her profession private. However, her late husband, Dick Butkus, had an estimated net worth of around $8 million.

His wealth was credited to his prosperous career as a retired professional football player, sports commentator, and actor.

Bottom Line

Helen Essenberg Butkus stands as a testament to the power of love and support in the face of fame. Her story, alongside Dick Butkus, reminds us that behind every great success is a team of dedicated hearts and unwavering commitment.

Lisa Smith

Lisa Smith is an accomplished content writer with a passion for crafting compelling narratives and engaging readers across various platforms. With a keen eye for detail and a creative mind, Lisa has established herself a