LeRoy Butler leaps into the Pro Football Hall of Fame
CANTON, Ohio (WBAY) - It’s official: Packers great LeRoy Butler is officially a Pro Football Hall of Famer. The ceremony Saturday featured eight members of the Class of 2022 enshrined at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.
Players must wait five years after they retire before they are eligible to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The last year of LeRoy Butler’s 12-year career was in 2001. All of those years were spent in Green Bay. Now 16 years later, including two where he didn’t make it as a finalist, Butler’s wait is finally over.
“When you play for the Green Bay Packers, a lot of doors open up,” Butler said in his speech Saturday. “When you win a Super Bowl, all doors open up. But when you make the Hall of Fame, football heaven opens up. You want to know why? Just guess. It’s rare company; there are only 362 guys in the Hall of Fame, and I’m number 357. 16 years is a long time, but it is worth the wait.”
“I’m just so happy for him,” Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy said. “He talked about the wait and how patient he’s been, he’s so deserving of it. I tell you, I haven’t seen LeRoy without a smile on his face since he found out he’s being inducted. He’s such a great representative of the Packers and so pleased for him.”
There was no shortage of No. 36 jerseys in the crowd Saturday in Canton, several of them with the Hall of Fame patch on them.
There was also no shortage of former teammates, several from the Super Bowl XXXI championship team.
“One guy can’t get here by himself, and he just wanted to let us know that ‘hey, I appreciate what you’ve done’ to get him here,” former Packers cornerback Doug Evans said.
“You know I think when one of us goes in from the era we played in I think we all go in,” former Packers DT Santana Dotson said. “When you start talking about the bar, the bar that we set both individually and collectively as a team was high.”
“He was someone who was very critical of the defense when they didn’t play well, but he would also come to the offensive side and point fingers at us and say ‘let’s get this ball rolling’. And in some kind of way, we would all seem to respond,” former Packers receiver Antonio Freeman said.
“LeRoy was just an act of his own, you know what I’m saying?” former Packers DT Gilbert Brown said. “He was an act of lightning, thunder and a bunch of bull sometimes too. But it’s great because he kept us all together. He stole a lot of sacks from Santana, but that’s what got him in the Hall. But you know what? Like Free and Santana put it best, we are camaraderie, we are brothers until the end.”
Butler is thankful for his teammates in his long journey to a gold jacket.
“My teammates, I love you all,” he said in his speech. “Where else could you go, the ultimate team game, that I could have a bad game every now and then - don’t google it - and my other 10 teammates carried me. So my teammates, I love them.”
Maybe the biggest surprise of the day, Butler kept his speech under the eight minute limit... three minutes under the time limit.
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