Khalil Mack on Tuesday received the 2018-19 professional Dick Butkus award, presented by the franchise’s legendary namesake and son Matt at an impromptu ceremony at the team’s OTA at Halas Hall.
Mack, who also won the pro award following the 2016 season with the Oakland Raiders and was the runner-up for the college honor to Alabama’s C.J. Mosley in 2013, received 67 percent of the first-place ballots among the 51-voter panel. The other finalists were Seattle’s Bobby Wagner, Indianapolis’ Darius Leonard and Carolina’s Luke Kuechly.
After being acquired days before the regular-season opener in a blockbuster trade with the Raiders, Mack tallied 12 ½ sacks and a career-high six forced fumbles in only 14 regular-season games. His profound effect on Chicago's No. 1-rated ‘D’ was evident immediately, when he recorded a sack, forced fumble and pick-six in Week 1 against the rival Green Bay Packers in his first half of football in navy and orange. Mack, whose sack total ranked second in franchise history, behind Hall of Famer Richard Dent, is the first Bear to win the award.
Mack, 28, also earned first-team All-Pro recognition for the third time and was voted to his fourth consecutive Pro Bowl. He recently called the circumstances in his first full offseson with the Bears this spring "ideal" and said he's eyeing an even better year individually in 2019.
“Mack returned fear to a vaunted Bears defense and was an instrumental, game-changing mismatch weapon who brought a havoc-wreaking presence to the NFC North champions with his signature strip sacks,” according to a statement by the selection committee. “His inspiring leadership and rare practice habits helped set the tempo for all phases of the team. Combining with Bears rookie and 2017 collegiate Butkus Award winner Roquan Smith went a long way toward returning the Bears atop the division and uniquely added to the richest linebacker tradition in the league.”
The Butkus award, recognizing qualities including toughness, on-field leadership, competitiveness, football character and linebacking skills that defined the Hall of Famer’s NFL career, promotes the health and wellness initiatives of the Butkus Foundation.