SOURCE: Butkus Foundation

Butkus Award, football, linebacker, award, college, pro, high school, steroids, I Play Clean

March 16, 2010 18:24 ET

Butkus Award® Professional Trophy Presented to Patrick Willis, San Francisco 49ers

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - March 16, 2010) -  The second-ever Butkus Award® honoring a professional linebacker was presented to Patrick Willis of the San Francisco 49ers today. The Award was presented by Pro Football Hall of Fame legend and the Award's namesake Dick Butkus, and his son Matt.

Willis, a 6'1" 240 lb. third-year linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers, received 12 first place votes and a total of 50 points. Willis is the first player to win the Butkus Award in two categories, having won the 2006 Collegiate Butkus Award while playing at the University of Mississippi. Willis finished the 2009 NFL season with 154 tackles, including 114 for loss and four sacks, three forced fumbles and three interceptions.

Willis edged the 2008 professional Butkus Award winner, DeMarcus Ware of the Dallas Cowboys, who finished with 39 points (6 first). NFL rookie and first round draft pick Brian Cushing of the Houston Texans finished third with 12 points. Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens finished fourth with nine points (2 first). Three tied for fifth: Karlos Dansby, Arizona Cardinals; Shaun Phillips, San Diego Chargers; Elvis Dumervil, Denver Broncos.

"What clinched the Butkus Award for Willis was his ability to do it all as the most complete three-down linebacker in professional football," said Hub Arkush of Pro Football Weekly, who coordinates the 51-person panel of selectors. "Other traits noted by selectors were his non-stop motor and through-the-roof athletic ability."

The panel is comprised mostly of scouts, coaches and journalists whose names are posted at www.thebutkusaward.com. Selectors follow all rules of their leagues and individual votes remain completely confidential.

In addition to the professional honor, the 2009 collegiate Butkus Award was presented to Rolando McClain of the University of Alabama, and the high school Butkus Award was presented to Jordan Hicks of Lakota West (Cincinnati), Ohio.

The Butkus Award is named after Dick Butkus, who is considered one of the country's greatest football players. Butkus was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979 following an illustrious career with the Chicago Bears, University of Illinois and Chicago Vocational School. Butkus and his son Matt want the Butkus Award to draw attention to the I Play Clean™ campaign, which aims to end steroid use in organized sports. More information is at www.iplayclean.org

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