Janesville26.5°

Butler went from wheelchair to Super Bowl champ

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KENNETH M. VELOSKEY
October 13, 2011
— There is more to former Green Bay Packer LeRoy Butler's legacy in Wisconsin than the Lambeau Leap.

In a story told more than once in Packerland, Butler made his iconic leap on Dec. 26, 1993, against the Los Angeles Raiders. After taking a lateral from Reggie White to go 25 yards for a touchdown, Butler made a spontaneous jump into the Lambeau stands.


"I knocked a beer out a guy's hands," Butler said. "He said, ‘Hey, you owe me a beer.'"


Butler was the featured guest of the Janesville Boys and Girls Club's annual Steak and Burger Banquet on Wednesday.


Nearly 300 listened to Butler give an entertaining description of his rise from a wheelchair and leg braces while growing up in a rough neighborhood in Jacksonville, Fla., through earning All-America status at Florida State, and playing on the Packers' 1996 Super Bowl team.


Butler had success as Packer, becoming a five-time All-Pro and four-time Pro Bowl selection, but he found more comfort off the field.


"I had a chance to free agency three times," said Butler, who was the Packers' second-round draft pick at defensive back in 1990. "I told Ron Wolf (Packers general manager) it's not about the money with me. I just want to be here because I'm well respected in the community, and I love it here."


Butler, who retired as a Packer in 2001, said being a Packer in Green Bay has its up side.


"They treat you like a rock star," Butler said. "People just love you."


Wanting to return the love, Butler became in involved community charity projects and established the LeRoy Butler Foundation to help women going through breast cancer treatment obtain the assistance.


Butler said his foundation has contributed $50,000 to the Janesville area.


Despite a full schedule, Butler made his 17th trip to Janesville.


"It's breast cancer month, and I was totally booked," Butler said. "But we made it work because there is nothing more important than helping kids."


Butler said he understands how much the fan makes a difference in pro sports and how some athletes don't understand the relationship.


"They don't get the fact that, if wasn't for these people, you'd be a nobody," said Butler, who lives in Oak Creek and owns a Ford dealership in Waupaca. "I think sometimes guys lose sight of that."


Butler sees things clearly.


"I love the fact that I can do stuff to help people," Butler said. "I love the fact that I can make a living here just being a good guy."



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