Butler: A Weekend Of Highs And Lows


Over the weekend, the Green Bay Packers lost one of the greatest players and one of the greatest men in their history when Reggie White passed away Sunday morning. Reggie was one of the best leaders I've ever been around and I remember what an impact he had on the Packers when came to Green Bay in 1993.

Reggie opened the doors for many African-American players to come Green Bay who would help us win the Super Bowl just a few years later - players like Sean Jones, Seth Joyner, Desmond Howard, Andre Rison, Bruce Wilkerson and many more. If it weren't for Reggie coming to Green Bay, I don't know how many of these guys would have come to play for a small market team and help turn the organization around.

Reggie is by far the number one leader that has ever been in a locker room in all of sports. Sure, Michael Jordan and Cal Ripken and some others were great leaders, but when a guy is such a leader both on and off the field the way Reggie was, there is no comparison.

The way he cared about his fellow teammates, how they lived their lives and how they carried themselves - that's a real leader.

We will miss Reggie dearly. He was one of my best friends in the whole world and I just thank him for what he taught me and the rest of the Green Bay Packers about leadership and life. He wasn't just a great teammate, but a great brother and a great role model as well.

Now on to some less important things.

The Green Bay Packers got it done Friday. They went into the Metrodome against all odds and beat the Vikings, and if you remember what I told you last week, the Packers did what I said they would have to do.

I told you there was no way the Minnesota defense was going to be able to stop the Green Bay offense, and that played out there on the turf under the dome. Brett Favre was masterful the way he picked apart the Viking defense.

It shows a lot of toughness when you see a guy throw an interception that gets returned for seven points, and then he comes back, ties the game up, and then drives his team down the field again to put them in position to win the game.

Ryan Longwell not only made the score identical to the first meeting with the Vikings six weeks earlier, but watching him kick another game-winning field goal was just great to see.

Looking more into the game, although the defense allowed 31 points to Minnesota again, if you look at it, the defense did what they had to do to win the game, especially in the second half. The key play came on the Vikings' last possession when the defense got Minnesota off the field on third-and-25.

We all know the Packers have had some difficulties in recent history against third and fourth down and long, but for some reason, this time they played well when they had to.

I know you want me to talk about the missed tackles and some other less than great plays, but when you're playing against an offense like Minnesota's in a huge game like that, you have to expect that they will make some big plays.

I want to honor the Green Bay defense for not cracking under pressure. Al Harris did a great job on Randy Moss. Much of the time he was man-to-man with no deep help and held him to just two catches for 30 yards. A lot of cornerbacks couldn't do that, but Al stepped up to the challenge.

I liked the way the Packers defense just kept fighting. Don't get caught up in looking at the scoreboard. The only time that matters is when it shows 0:00, and the Packers were ahead 34-31 when it counted.

You saw Bob Slowik on the sideline for the Minnesota game and I think that was a good move for communication reasons. To have your defensive coordinator right there with the players really helps with getting the message across to the players face to face.

Offensively, the line played great. After giving up an early sack to Lance Johnstone, the offensive line really gave Favre the time he needed to make the throws down the field. Brett showed again why he and Peyton Manning are probably the two best play-action quarterbacks I've ever seen.

Brett does a great job of carrying out the play-fakes, and that says a lot about his coach Darrell Bevell. Although he's young in his coaching career, I think he's going to be a great coach in the NFL for a long time to come.

A lot of the Packers' success in the red zone goes back to the strength of the running game and the great job Brett does making the play-action passes in the scoring area.

The win Friday capped a great run for the Packers, rebounding from a 1-4 start with a four-game losing streak to win the division and lock up a home playoff game. I know you might say that the NFC was down this year, but you've still got to play the games and win when it counts.

They Packers have won the games down the stretch and have put themselves in good position to make a strong run in the playoffs. I love the toughness that Mike Sherman brings to this team and how he made sure his Packers weren't going to be down after losing a difficult game at home last week to Jacksonville.

Coach Sherman got his team ready to play on a short week and took them into the Metrodome and beat the Vikings in the biggest game of the year.

Friday put the finishing touches on an eventful and very exciting regular season and got the Packers to their first goal - winning the NFC North. There were some great players who got them to that point and I want to congratulate them on a great year.

I'm really proud of William Henderson for finally getting some recognition for all the work he's put in all these years and is heading to the Pro Bowl for the first time. Also going for the first time is Javon Walker, and he really deserves it too.

I'm not even going to congratulate Marco Rivera and Ahman Green (ha ha) because they go to the Pro Bowl every year.

The one guy who I feel got snubbed in the Pro Bowl voting was Mike Wahle. This guy has played better than any lineman in the NFL this year. He's big, he's physical, and he's smart. I really hope that in the future, not only will he get the recognition he deserves, but that it will come in a Green Bay uniform.

Looking ahead, you fans should be upbeat and excited. You're going to get at least one more chance to come out and cheer on your Green Bay Packers in your stadium at Lambeau Field. This is time of year when the true home field advantage needs to come back to Green Bay and I think we can all play a part in getting that back when the playoffs start.

*LeRoy Butler played 12 seasons for the Green Bay Packers, helping them to two Super Bowls and earning NFL All-Decade Honors for the 1990s, before retiring in July 2002. This season Butler is again providing exclusive analysis to Packers.com beginning with training camp and later with a breakdown of the upcoming game on Saturdays, followed by a column and Q&A session on Tuesdays during the preseason and regular season.

Butler's autobiography, 'The LeRoy Butler Story ... From Wheelchair to the Lambeau Leap,' is available on his website, leroybutler36.com.*

LeRoy serves as the host on the new DVD, 'Brett Favre - On and Off the Field'. Click here for more information on the DVD.

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