An induction into Canton, Ohio as an NFL Hall of Famer is the greatest individual accolade in the sport we all love. With just over a week until the ‘Class of 2020’ is announced, Max Hillman examines the case that can be made for former Packer LeRoy Butler. Looking to be inducted in his first time as a finalist after being a semifinalist since 2017.
Butler, Packer For Life
One of four safeties in the final 15 nominees, Butler played his entire career as a Green Bay resident. From 1990 to 2001. This included being on the Super Bowl 31 winning team. Along with losing another Super Bowl and appearing in 3 further NFC Championship games. This continued dominance earned him 4 lots of first team all-pro recognition and a place on the NFL All-Decade team for the 90s. Demonstrating how vital of a player he was toward the success of the Packers during his 11 years in the league.
He showed up in big games, recording three sacks in playoff games including a takedown of Patriot Bledsoe in their Super Bowl win. Butler also recovered a duo of fumbles in the playoffs, picking off a pass also. One of these recoveries came in the ’96 NFC Championship Game against the Panthers. Making the case for #36’s induction as rather than just continued regular season talent, Butler also constantly backed up his potential in the postseason. An important skill worthy of hall of fame recognition.
Canton level numbers
Statistical analysis definitely furthers a case for LeRoy Butler. The Florida native finished his career with 38 interceptions. Complimenting his 13 forced fumbles and 20.5 sacks from the Strong Safety position in 181 games. Averaging an INT just under every 4 games is a feat not many can establish. Especially over the course of an 11 year career. This longevity and continued elite level performance ranks him above other safety nominees in the class according to many. While Atwater and Lynch are worthy, Butler is the critics choice for number two safety in the final 15. With Troy Polamalu the unanimous guaranteed Hall of Famer for this year.
While LB was a force to be reckoned with on the field, his off the field antics also aid his case to be enshrined. Former Packers secondary coach Bob Valesente stated “He’s a great talent, but he studies hard. We do a lot of teaching in the classroom and on the field and he’s not only picked up on it. But he’s become a teacher himself with the younger guys.”. Leadership demonstrated within the locker room meant younger players looked up to him, appreciation worthy of having a bust of his face unveiled.
Additionally and perhaps most importantly, the world famous ‘Lambeau Leap’ celebration came from the mind of Butler. This celebration Leap strengthened the bond between the Packers and their famous fanbase. Becoming something recognised around the NFL. To this day it remains Packers tradition. This proves further how influential Butler was on Packers culture. Influencing the team of the current day even almost 20 years after his retirement.
Overall, the stats don’t lie, and neither do the people that knew him as a man. Ex Packers General Manager Ron Wolf summed up Butler by saying nothing except “He had no weakness.”. Bias perhaps? More likely just justified recognition and respect of one of the Safeties looking to break the recent curse on the position making it into Canton.
Make sure you check out the rest of the articles in this series examining a case for each of the 2020 Hall of Fame final 15! Thanks for reading!
(image credits to 1057fmthefan.radio.com)