(Reuters) - Doug Buffone, a linebacker who played 14 seasons for the National Football League’s Chicago Bears before retiring in 1980 as the franchise’s all-time leader in games played, died on Monday at the age of 70, the team said.
Buffone, a fourth-round draft pick whose 24 interceptions remain the most in club history for a linebacker, was found dead in his Chicago home, the coroner’s office said.
No cause of death was released.
“Today is a sad day for Bears nation,” former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher posted on Twitter. “We lost one of our greats. Doug Buffone will be missed.”
Buffone played in 186 games for the Bears, making 1,257 tackles and going over the 100-tackle mark in seven seasons.
The team said in a statement that Buffone “will always be celebrated as one of the Bears greats for his contributions to his team and the fans who loved him.
“There was no one tougher on Sundays than Doug Buffone.”
Buffone’s team record for games played was ultimately eclipsed by former long snapper Patrick Mannelly, who now holds the mark with 245.
“One time for Doug Buffone! It was an honor to share the #55 with the first legend to wear it,” tweeted Lance Briggs, another former Bears linebacker.
In retirement, Buffone owned restaurants and was a studio host and football analyst for a Chicago radio station.
Reporting by Steve Ginsburg in Washington; Editing by Peter Cooney