A shoulder injury in 2001 may have brought an end to his playing career, but two seasons away from football have done nothing to diminish LeRoy Butler's love of the game or his former team.
This weekend, Butler will travel to Indianapolis upon the invitation of GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman to be a special guest of the Packers at the NFL Scouting Combine -- which runs through Tuesday, Feb. 24 -- where he'll donate the knowledge gained over his 12-year NFL career.
"I'm just looking to help out any way I can," Butler said. "I'd like to be able to take a look at some of the defensive backs and see if I can find another LeRoy Butler in that group, someone who the Packers can depend on for years to come."
First a starting cornerback as a second-year player in 1991, Butler became the Packers' starting strong safety in 1992 and held the spot until nine games into the 2001 season when he sustained multiple fractures to his left scapula while tackling Maurice Smith of the Atlanta Falcons. The injury ended Butler's season and ultimately his career.
Butler attempted to rehabilitate his shoulder, but the fractures didn't heal strongly enough to withstand the impact of an NFL season and in July 2002, he announced his retirement.
Since, Butler has been a guest on the sidelines of several Packers games and last season he acted as a special guest analyst for Packers.com, writing regular features for the team's official website.
"I still feel like I have a lot to offer the game," Butler said. "But I only want to contribute to the team that gave me a chance back in 1990. I have such a connection with the Packers and their fans that I really don't want to be involved with any other team."
Only five players in team history have played more games for the Packers than Butler, whose 181 games are the most of any Packers defensive back.
But where Butler was a reliable presence for a decade, the Packers since have had much turnover. Marques Anderson, Matt Bowen, Bhawoh Jue and Antuan Edwards each had multi-game stints as the starter at strong safety.
"I'm not sure where the Packers will look to draft a safety this year, but in those middle and later rounds scouting is crucial," Butler said. "If I can be of any help sniffing out a diamond in the rough, I'm happy to do it."
Himself a second-round selection, Butler came to the Packers as the 48th overall selection of the 1990 draft.
"The Combine has changed a lot since I was coming out of Florida State," Butler said. "These days a lot of the top players skip their workouts and do all their running in individual workouts. Back in my day, if you skipped something that was a knock against you.
"But it's hard to blame these guys for wanting to make the conditions perfect for themselves. If you're a potential first-rounder, the difference in a few tenths of a second on your 40(-yard dash) time could be the difference in being an early pick or a late-round pick. So there's a lot of money riding on the outcome.
"It's going to be interesting. I'm excited to be going back."