Wednesday Raiders All world pass rushing dynamo Khalil Mack received the Pro Dick Butkus Award. Typically the award is most well known when it is given to the nation’s top college linebacker. But it is also given to the nation’s top high school and pro linebacker.
What’s great about this instance was the Raiders sprung it on Mack completely by surprise, with Dick Butkus himself there to present him the award.
“That was amazing, man. I had no clue,” said Mack. “Coming in and I was walking past him and I was like, ‘Whoa, what’s going on here today?’ Then [he was] introduced. Walked in and saw the cameras and I’m like, ‘What’s going on today? Coach got something going on today. I’m thinking we’re going back on the go-karts or something today.’ (laughter) And out of nowhere, they show us highlights and his highlights are crazy. Dick Butkus highlights are crazy. And I’m like, ‘What’s going on today!? We getting a presentation, like what’s going on?’ Out of nowhere he announced it and I was like, ‘What?’ got up, it was a pleasant surprise man. In college I wanted to win it, and being like I won it now, it’s a surreal thing.”
Coming out of high school, Mack wasn’t even on the radar for the award. He was a 2-star athlete out of Florida who went to Buffalo where he selected the number 46 as motivation being that it was his NCAA football video game player rating.
The year Mack came out of college, it was Alabama middle linebacker, CJ Mosley to took home the award. Then Mosley finished ahead of Mack in the votes for Rookie of the Year voting. Now three years later, Mack is the most accomplished linebacker in football.
Mack says getting the honor now carries it’s own special meaning because he got to share it with his Raiders teammates and coaches.
“It was awesome,” said Jack Del Rio. “Dick Butkus had his people call and ask if he could come and present. I said, ‘If you’re coming, absolutely. Love to have you.’ It was a big honor to have one of the legends in Dick Butkus come himself and acknowledge a great player for us and a guy who was defensive player of the year last year.”
Del Rio was a highly touted college linebacker as well as an NFL linebacker. Unfortunately for him, the Butkus award didn’t begin until the year after he joined the NFL.
The first professional Butkus award was handed out in 2008, meaning Mack is the tenth annual winner and 8th overall being that DeMarcus Ware and Luke Kuechly each won it twice.