The Best In The League


LeRoy Butler ranks third all-time on the Packers career interception list.

LeRoy Butler is the best safety in the National Football League. At least if you listened to him, that is what he would have you believe after a short while. His case does have plenty of support; three consecutive Pro Bowl nominations, increased responsibility and leadership are all tasks that Butler does not shy away from. Following the retirement of the irreplaceable Reggie White from the defensive front line, more pressure was placed on the secondary to cover receivers for a longer period of time, a responsibility Butler does not take lightly.

Here are some statistics, 35 interceptions, and 4 Behind Hall of Famer Herb Adderley's 39 thefts for third place on the Packer all-time list or 17 and one-half sacks from his safety position. He also has 2 career touchdowns.

"I want to be accountable for everything we (the defense) do on the field. I think it is my responsibility to win on defense. I think it is my responsibility to get those guys (the defense) ready to play. I think it is my responsibility to be all-pro at the end of season," Butler said.

One might think that is a tremendous amount of pressure for one man to bear, but Butler feels that he needs the burden to perform at his top level.

"I like a lot of pressure. I don't think you can be a great player and be on the cover of all of these magazines without pressure. If you're hiding behind a great team, well, what did you do? Do people respect you? Do they know you when you go to Cancun, New York, Africa or where ever, do they know you, or do they know you're on a team?" Butler asked. "It is an individual game in a way, but it is a team game overall. You should want the pressure. The guys that don't want the pressure are the guys that are not on the T-shirts, are not on all the football cards, and are not the guys doing all of the commercials." Butler said.

This is not to say that the hard-hitting safety craves the spotlight, but he is a man who knows his role on this edition of the Green Bay Packer defense, and he accepts his responsibilities, he looks forward to Sundays, and he does not tolerate second-best.

"I don't want to be an average guy. I don't want to be around average guys. I've always wanted to be that front runner, so that if something comes along, I'm the one to pick it up. I want to be the guy that does that. I expect that, so if it doesn't happen, I'm always disappointed." Butler said.

This year under new defensive coordinator, Emmitt Thomas, Butler will see more time starting plays positioned closer to the line, as a linebacker does. Moving around the defense is nothing new to LeRoy; he started his collegiate career at Florida State as a cornerback before switching to safety, a move made by head coach, Ray Rhodes.

Playing in the secondary in the NFC Central is hazardous to a defensive back's career. Matching up with wide receivers the likes of Herman Moore, Johnnie Morton, Randy Moss, Cris Carter, Jake Reed and Curtis Conway is a good way for a defensive back to find his way on to a poster, the wrong way. But, in his irreplaceable style, Butler sees this as a challenge, another way for him to prove his abilities and talents to anyone watching.

"It is fun though. If you want to make it to the Pro Bowl, people are going to look at whom you covered. You can't be covering cream puffs if you want to be a great player. That is what I tell the young guys (Antuan Edwards, Mike McKenzie, and Fred Vinson), step up and meet that challenge. If you make plays on those guys and do well, people will start to notice you, and that is how you get the recognition." Butler said. He should know, he is among the most recognizable defensive personalities in the National Football League.

Part of LeRoy Butler's recognition, whether he admits it or not, stems from his undeniable desire to play for one team, and one team only, the Green Bay Packers. His old-fashioned mentality of playing for one team, in one city, is one to be admired, especially when considering the steep price tag some of the other safeties in the league demand on the free agent market.

The main reason he wants to stay with the Packer team is his family. He and his wife, Rhodesia, and their two daughters, L'Oreal (6) and Gabrielle (5), and a third on the way have made Green Bay their home during the season, and LeRoy does not want to move them around the country. When he is with his family, he loves watching television with them, and they all get a big kick out of it when one of his commercials come on the tube.

If you're still not convinced LeRoy Butler is the best safety in the league, I offer this bit of advice, in the event you run into him out around town just ask him. He'll tell you.

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