CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwire - August 20, 2009) - The Butkus Award® Silver Anniversary season begins today with announcement of linebackers who start the season on its collegiate and high school Watchlist.

The list includes 35 collegiate linebackers from 27 colleges and universities, and 50 high school linebackers from 24 states. All are posted at

"This Award is about honoring the country's best linebackers, and reminding them that they have a responsibility to serve as role models and to give back to society," said Dick Butkus, the award's namesake, who is considered one of the greatest football players in history.

The Butkus Award supports the I Play Clean™ campaign formed by Dick and Matt Butkus to encourage teen athletes to train hard, eat well and play with attitude, instead of resorting to harmful steroids and related substances. Recent research suggests that nearly a half-million teens have experimented with steroids. In a show of support for playing clean, Butkus asks athletes, families and fans to take the I Play Clean pledge at

Official nominees for the Butkus Award collegiate and high school trophies will be named October 15, at a Butkus Charity Fight Night at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Chicago. Ticket information is available at Finalists will be named November 19 and winners will be named on or before December 8.

The Butkus Award includes high school, collegiate and professional categories, all which are selected by a 51-person panel coordinated by Hub Arkush of Pro Football Weekly. The panel includes the nation's most respected coaches, general managers, talent evaluators, scouts and media. Certain selectors are not allowed to have contact with certain candidates. A complete list of the 2009 selection panel will be posted at

The Butkus Award is presented by the Butkus Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit organization. Dick 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. Meanwhile, his son Matt was a defensive lineman for the University of Southern California and joins his father in philanthropic efforts.

The Butkus Award is part of the National College Football Awards Association, a coalition of the major collegiate awards. More information is available at

Contact Information: Contact: Ron Arp 360.601.2991