GREEN BAY – Former Green Bay Packers safety LeRoy Butler will be in Canton, Ohio this summer to support Brett Favre as the quarterback is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Always a character, Butler joked Friday that he might have a surprise waiting for his former quarterback.
“I may just go up there and snatch Brett’s jacket,” Butler said, “and say, ‘Hey man, this is for me.’”
To Butler, his quarterback’s enshrinement culminates the legacy of those 1990s teams. The Packers don’t win a Super Bowl XXXI championship without Favre, Butler knows. Of course, they also don’t win a title without their four-time All-Pro safety.
Butler knows that too.
With Favre’s enshrinement looming, Butler believes there’s more work ahead to cement the 1990s Packers' legacy. Yes, Butler admitted, he has thought about his own candidacy.
“That’s why we played the game,” Butler said. “That’s why I stayed with the Packers for 12 years. To show people it’s not about the money, it’s about the tradition. To do something no other safety has ever done: covering your best receiver on third down, good tackler, great blitzer, Lambeau Leap.
“If you’re going to vote some of the other safeties to the final, then let’s just compare notes. I think my stats stand up to all. Too often you ask guys about that, and they say, ‘No, no, I don’t care about it.’ That’s B.S. We think about it. If you’re in that conversation, you want it to (happen).”
Butler hasn’t been in the conversation, at least not formally. He has never made the list of 25 semifinalists, let alone 15 finalists. And yet, Butler has a point.
Just compare the notes.
John Lynch and Steve Atwater were hall of fame finalists for the class of 2016. Butler, a member of the 1990s All-Decade First Team along with Atwater, earned as many All-Pro selections as Lynch and Atwater combined. He also had more career sacks (20.5) than Lynch (13) and Atwater (five) combined, as well as more interceptions (38) than either of his contemporaries (Lynch had 26, Atwater 24).
All three safeties won a Super Bowl, though Atwater tops that list with two. His Denver Broncos beat the Packers in Super Bowl XXXII.
Lynch (nine) and Atwater (eight) have more Pro Bowl selections than Butler (four). Neither Lynch nor Atwater had a career climax as dominant at Butler, who made three straight All-Pro teams from 1996-98, but perhaps the Pro Bowls stretched out over their career persuade voters Butler does not hold the longevity edge.
No matter, Butler clearly holds no ill will toward Favre. He’s happy to see his former teammate enshrined, appreciating what Favre meant to the franchise.
Butler spoke in the Lambeau Field parking lot Friday morning before departing on the five-day Packers Tailgate Tour, which is making stops in Ripon (Friday), Fort Atkinson (Saturday), Dodgeville (Sunday), Black River Falls (Monday) and Shawano (Tuesday). He suggested Favre should tag along one year down the road.
“We love Brett Favre,” Butler said. “We’d wish he would be here on the tour one day. One day we’ll get him up there.”