CANTON, Ohio — Green Bay Packers safety Leroy Butler wasn’t an instant option. Years passed. Time moves on. The glories of the past fade into memory with each passing moment. until Saturday. Butler finally had his hard-earned moment on Saturday when he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Butler reflected on that long journey in his speech at the Tom Benson Hall of Fame. When you get into the Green Bay Packers, some doors open,” Butler said.
“When you win the Super Bowl, all doors open. When you get into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, heaven opens. I have very few company. Only 362 players have made it, and I’m No. 357.”
You can forgive the pain of a player like Butler in this situation. Despite winning the Super Bowl in Green Bay and being named to the 1990s NFL Team of the Decade, he had to wait more than a decade to be enshrined. There were no hints in Butler’s remarks.
“Sixteen years is a long time,” Butler said. “I can tell you it was worth the wait. A big thank you to everyone who helped me get here.”
Butler’s speech lasted just over five minutes, and his focus was largely on the family and coaches who had an impact on his life. One of the stories was about former Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden.
“I’m Proposition 48,” Butler said. “Coach Bowdoin drove straight to the Inner City program in Florida. We saw that and told him you can’t just drive in. You need to take it easy. He told my mom that he was here for her baby scholarship.”
Butler made the most of the scholarship, eventually being selected by Green Bay in the second round of the NFL draft. The fit is perfect. The rest is history.
“I want to thank the Green Bay fans,” Butler said. “Without you, there would be no Leroy Butler. I want to thank all of my teammates. You saw (former Packers) Gilbert Brown in my intro. I love you all. It doesn’t happen often, But I feel like if I have a bad game, I can always rely on my teammates to carry me.”