LeRoy Butler played strong safety for his entire career with the Green Bay Packers. Known for creating the famous “Lambeau Leap,” Butler still roots for his old team. If you follow him on Twitter, you see that he is always giving his perspective during games.
Butler won a Super Bowl title with the Packers when Green Bay beat the New England Patriots in 1997. Butler was selected to the Pro Bowl four times and was part of the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team. He is also a member of the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame.
Recently LeRoy released his latest book called “Packers Pride: Green Bay Greats Share Their Favorite Memories.” Even if you are not a Packers fan, this is a great read. As a 49ers fan, I soaked up every story that Butler shares in his book. The rivalry section was very intriguing.
Butler was kind enough to chat with me about the Packers, his book, fatherhood, and his foundation.
Art Eddy: Your book “Packers Pride: Green Bay Greats Share Their Favorite Memories” recently came out. I am digging this book. I love the stories and insight. How did you come up with the idea for this book?
LeRoy Butler: Well I wanted to do a football geeky type book. I think a lot of fans see us playing on the field, but they don’t get a chance to see what we are thinking or what were are favorite moments about playing. I got a chance to do that.
I did a book earlier about my life. It wasn’t necessarily about my life in Green Bay, but it was about my life growing up. With the “Packers Pride” it really is a tribute to all the Green Bay Packers fans out there everywhere that we appreciate them supporting us.
Some of these stories are hilarious. For me we have stories about Brett Favre growing up and Reggie White. Both of those guys were free agents. One came from Atlanta and the other came from Philadelphia. How did they adapt to the team. So I have some great stories about great guys from around the league. I just had a lot of fun putting it together.
AE: What was the reaction of your former teammates when they heard you were working on this book?
LB: A lot of guys said that they have so many stories to tell and I never either had the time to do it or thought about doing it. Me and Rob Reischel talked to about 60 guys. All of them wanted to tell at least one story or one paragraph. They wanted to be a part of it.
They had things that they wanted to share. We call it barbershop talk. Everyone has their opinion. We would say, ‘Who is your favorite guy?’ Or we might say, “Who is the best at this?’ I talk about that in the book. It gave me the chance to talk about football from perspective. It was a lot of fun.
AE: There are so many great stories in this book. I love how you break down Green Bay’s rivals and your stories of the Packers greats. Tell me a bit about those rivals.
LB: There were a few things that I talked about that was awesome like the playoff game against San Francisco. We were used to playing a 4-3 defense that is with four defensive linemen. We wanted to do some new stuff. I remember Fritz Shurmur, our defensive coordinator said that we are going to try a little 3-4. It will surprise them a little bit, because they are expecting a 4-3. We dominated them because they didn’t see that particular defensive front.
I never was asked that in my whole entire playing career. Now I have a chance to talk about that in detail. So I was so excited about that.
AE: You were credited with starting “The Lambeau Leap.” I was watching video of that play. One of the first Packers to come off the sideline to congratulate you was Brett Favre. In your book you talk about how Brett made everyone feel at home. Fans and the media didn’t see that side. How important was it for you to put that in your book?
LB: It was important because it was 100 percent the truth. Brett Favre is the single best teammate in the history of sports. What he did was what you would never see guys do. When he came from Atlanta he adapted with the African American community with hip-hop. He went with the white guys with country music. He went with some of the younger guys who were playing the video games. He went with the older guys who like to do hunting.
Everybody loved the guy. He didn’t wait for people to come congratulate him. He was assertive at his networking skills. That is why if you look at Brett Favre’s career you couldn’t name a lot of these receivers, because it didn’t care to him. He would put you in the position to make plays. Not only that guys would dive to make plays for him. Case in point when his dad died and they played the Raiders these guys were jumping all over each other making catches. He is the ultimate teammate. I was very adamant about putting that in the book.
I never did that when I came into the league as a rookie. When I came in the guys just hung around me because I was a second round pick. I wasn’t networking. I wasn’t going over trying to meet guys. I figured that I would just meet them throughout the day. It was just an awesome way to see how he networked. I don’t think that I will ever see that again.
AE: In your opinion which Packer performed “The Lambeau Leap” the best?
LB: Oh, that is a fantastic question. I would say that if I have to vote I will give three guys that did it well. Donald Driver is in that three. Ahman Green was great at it. The guy who was the best at it was Robert Brooks. He would run and jump and then turn around and sit down. That was phenomenal.
AE: When you look back on winning Super Bowl XXXI, what are some of the main memories you have from that game?
LB: One of the things was the free agents and the things we did to put together that type of team that year. We brought in Andre Rison, no one wanted that guy. We brought in Desmond Howard, who was a receiver in Jacksonville that people said he couldn’t play. He was the Super Bowl MVP.
AE: Yea, he was doing the robot into the end zone in that game. It was hilarious.
LB: Right! People thought that Desmond was always there. No, we had to go out and get this guy. Ron Cox was our middle linebacker. He played with the Bears before coming to the team. Antonio Freeman, who people said he wasn’t fast enough. He had an 86 yard touchdown in that game.
If you look at this game it was unbelievable. The development and the maturity of that team that went into that Super Bowl was great. New England had a pretty good team. They had a great tight end. They had a great quarterback in Drew Bledsoe. They had a Hall of Fame running back and a pretty good defense.
The way this team came together was like no other. Once people look back at that roster you shake your head on how we won it. These guys came together to win a championship. I am very thankful for that.
AE: How far do you think the Packers will go this year?
LB: I think that if you have a quarterback with a proven passer rating that is always over 100 and have a defense that is very opportunistic you will have good chance to make it far. There are a few injuries like Clay Matthews and some of the young wide receivers. You have young running back in Eddie Lacy and they have a fresh guy in James Starks to come off the bench. It is a good one two punch.
Not to mention that they have rookie left tackle. It is sort of a head scratcher on how Ted Thompson is putting this team together. They didn’t build it with a lot of free agents. I will be honest with you. Just look at the schools that some of these guys have come from. It is not USC. It is not Florida. It is not Ohio State. They are not coming from these big schools. For Ted Thompson, if you have talent he will find you. So anyone in that green and gold uniform you feel that you have a chance to succeed.
AE: Tell me a bit about your foundation.
LB: One of the biggest things that we did was for breast cancer. I have four daughters and I wanted to get out in front of it. Brett Favre and I did a DVD to help support and raise money for breast cancer. We are also doing an anti-bullying campaign. We are trying to get the bullies and those who are bullied to become buddies. We call it the “Don’t be a bully, be a buddy” campaign. We got to schools and talk with them to educate them on bullying.
AE: In your book you said your mother was the best role model for you. As a father, what type of things do you make sure you do to be a role model for your kids?
LB: I knew when I played football I represented the jersey both with the name on the front and on the back. So that is why I would never do stuff like you see Dez Bryant doing. You have to represent your family. When you go home, your kids see how you act. It is hard to tell them not to act up when they see us act up.
I try to be a role model for them by telling them to be leaders and not followers. I have four daughters and a son. I tell them that they need to treat others the way you want to be treated. I grew up without a dad. My mom raised me to be the man I am today. She told me how to respect women, be a provider, and to make sure that I make the right choices. That is what I teach my kids.
AE: What is the most challenging part of fatherhood for you?
LB: The biggest thing is listening. I would listen to my mama when she would preach the Gospel. Sometimes kids might tune you out, but you have to make sure that they listen to the important stuff.
AE: What do you guys like to do for fun in your household?
LB: We do have a lot of fun. I have four daughters and one son. I remember way back when I was playing for the Packers coach Holmgren says, ‘Hey every Wednesday you can bring your sons to the locker room.’
Me and Brett (Favre) said that don’t have sons, we have daughters. Reggie White went and spoke with coach and we were able to bring our daughters to the locker room on Saturdays. It was great. My daughters would be wearing Brett’s helmet and throwing the football around in the locker room. So that was a lot of fun.
I went to a lot of recitals. I went to a lot of plays. Fell asleep at some of them. (Both laugh.) I would play Monopoly with them. I love my kids more than anything in the world. You don’t have to wait for June 20th to celebrate Father’s Day. We just have to provide 365 and God will help you to mentally stay focused to take care of your family.