Doug Buffone, who played 14 seasons for Bears, dies at 70

CHICAGO -- Former Bears linebacker Doug Buffone, whose reputation for being a passionate football player carried over into his career as a sports broadcaster, died Monday at the age of 70.

Paramedics were called to Buffone's Chicago home Monday afternoon, where they found the popular linebacker-turned-broadcaster unresponsive, police said.

"We are terribly saddened to hear of Doug's passing," Bears chairman George McCaskey said in a statement. "He 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."

Former Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher tweeted about Buffone's death Monday.

A staple of the Bears' defense in the mid-1960s until his retirement following the 1979 season, Buffone arrived in Chicago in 1966 when team founder George Halas selected the linebacker in the fourth round of the NFL draft out of Louisville.

By the time Buffone wrapped up his brilliant career, he led all Bears linebackers with 24 career interceptions. He also had 10 fumble recoveries, nine forced fumbles, 37 sacks and 1,257 tackles, going over the 100-tackle mark in seven seasons.

Buffone's 14 seasons in Chicago are tied for second most in club history.

In a statement, Hall of Famer Dick Butkus, who played alongside Buffone on the Bears for seven years, said a "great man" was lost.

"I will always remember him for his football talent, sense of humor and enduring friendship," Butkus said. "He was a very special guy."

Beginning in the 1990s, Buffone became a fixture on Chicago sports talk radio and local television. He left an indelible impression on the market's young, aspiring broadcasters, including former colleague and current co-host of ESPN Radio's Mike and Mike program, Mike Greenberg.

Buffone's unbridled Bears enthusiasm made him a must-listen after games, especially following a difficult loss. He teamed with fellow ex-Bears great Ed O'Bradovich on the radio in recent years.

"It drove him nuts when we didn't play well, and we always appreciated that he wore his heart on his sleeve because we knew how much he cared," McCaskey said. "Doug's passion for the game of football and the Chicago Bears was unmatched, and he will be missed."

ESPN's Jeff Dickerson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.