LeRoy Butler played 12 years in the National Football League – all of them with the Green Bay Packers.
Maybe it was that front four that helped the 1996 Packers win a Super Bowl, but it was the defensive backfield that caused as much havoc.
Led by Butler, the Packers were the team to beat in the mid- to late-1990s.
Why isn’t LeRoy Butler in any of the conversations for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
We ask this question because there has been much emphasis on the fact that former Packers cornerback Charles Woodson will be a first round inductee.
Yes, we love Sir Charles, the best defensive player on that 2010 Super Bowl-winning team. His induction is a certainty … and rightly so.
But let’s take a look at these two players and why Woodson has already been elevated and why Butler is on the outside looking in …
Charles Woodson and LeRoy Butler both derserve induction
The argument here is not that Charles Woodson shouldn’t be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame … he most certainly should and will be given his due on his first ballot.
The discussion here surrounds the fact that it seems LeRoy Butler is being shut completely out of the conversation.
Could Butler end up being like Jerry Kramer – deserving, but never getting the call for whatever reasons are out there?
I hope not.
Let’s dive into this discussion, starting with Woodson’s career statistics and why he deserves the recognition.
Woodson played 18 years in the league, he played in 254 games, starting 251 of them. That’s durability over nearly two decades of football.
During those 18 seasons, seven of his most productive being in Green Bay, Woodson intercepted 65 balls, returning 11 for touchdowns.
In addition, Woodson stuck his nose in on 983 tackles and 222 assists. That’s a football player.
Woodson also forced 33 fumbles, recovered 18 of them, and defensed 155 passes.
Woodson was also a leader of men. We saw how he motivated that 2010 Packers team all the way to a Super Bowl championship.
While Woodson accumulated those stats over the course of 18 seasons, Butler played just 12 in the league, but they were 12 rather spectacular seasons.
In all, Butler played in 181 career games, starting 165 of them. During that time, he intercepted 38 passes (just slightly more than half of those by Woodson). Another stark difference between Butler and Woodson is that he returned only one of his interceptions for a touchdown, mainly because he played safety, while Woodson was a cornerback who picked off passes in open spaces.
As a side note, Butler’s and Woodson’s 38 interceptions (with Green Bay) trail only Bobby Dillon‘s 52. Willie Wood‘s 48, and Herb Adderley‘s 39 in team annals. Both Wood and Adderley are in the Hall of Fame.
But the biggest argument for Butler being in the Hall of Fame was his toughness and eagerness to demonstrate it on the field.
Woodson averaged 3.9 tackles per game over 18 seasons; Butler averaged 4 over 12 seasons.
Woodson had 20 sacks during his career of 18 seasons; Butler turned in 20.5 in 12 seasons.
Butler also forced 13 fumbles and recovered 10.
The numbers for Butler are evident, but so is the seemingly lack of respect when it comes to calling him a Hall-of-Famer.
Now, let’s compare these two former Packers with a current Hall-of-Famer who was elected on his first ballot: Deion Sanders.
The loudmouthed, high-steppin’ Sanders played in 188 games, starting 157 of them. He intercepted 53 passes, returned them 1,331 yards and scored on nine of them.
What’s most interesting is that over the course of his 14-year career, Sanders only recorded 493 solo tackles and just 20 assists.
Yes, the neon man was one of the first to make specialties important in the modern game.
Unlike both Woodson and Butler, Sanders wasn’t what many would describe as a “football player.” He was special, don’t get me wrong, but he was more into image and the name than he was in being a complete defensive football player.
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The only upper hand Sanders brings to the argument is that he was a specialist who could return punts and kickoffs and do it well. That fact certainly helped in his cause in getting into the hall.
But to get back to Woodson and Butler … if Woodson is a first ballot selection as we might expect, we should also not forget about what Butler brought to the Green Bay Packers and the NFL.
Like Woodson, he won one Super Bowl and participated in two. Sanders wasn’t the champion master either … he won just two Super Bowls.
The bottom line here is that if Sanders is deserving of a first ballot selection, then so is Woodson … and if they are selected to the hall, then serious consideration has to also be given to Butler.