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Class of 2022: LeRoy Butler – 16 years awaiting the Pro Football Hall of Fame worthy of a trip to “heaven”.

By Barry Miller
Specially for the Pro Football Hall of Fame

LeROY BUTLER from wearing greaves as a kid to inventing the Lambeau Leap in the NFL.

Quite a journey for the 12-season Green Bay safety, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday.

The hard-hitting defenseman with big play was a key to the Packers winning three straight division crowns and the 1996 NFL championship and beating New England in the Super Bowl when he had seven tackles and a sack.

A four-time All-Pro, he led the Packers in picks five times, intercepted a pass in each of his first 11 seasons, and had 38 total. Butler also had 20.5 career sacks and was one of the most physical, intelligent, and resourceful safes the modern day saw game.

“When you play for the Green Bay Packers, a lot of things open up,” Butler said. “When you win a Super Bowl, all things open up. You make it into the Hall of Fame, football heaven opens up.”

And then there was that wild game against the Raiders in 1993.

Raiders running back Randy Jordan was hit hard (of course) by Butler and the ball came loose. REGGIE WHITE, another Hall of Famer, grabbed it and ran about 10 yards, all the while looking for someone to take a page. That someone was Butler, racing on the sidelines for his first career TD.

Then he jumped onto the stands.

“The fans got to see and touch something they had never experienced before. And if someone jumped into the stands, my homeboy would start,” said former teammate Gilbert Brown, who helped introduce Butler via video on Saturday.

As a youth, walking, let alone jumping, was a big challenge for Butler. Because the bones in his feet were misaligned, he could only walk short distances, could not run, and often needed a wheelchair or the leg braces.

But he persevered, becoming a Florida State star and a second-round draft pick in 1990, playing in an era full of brilliant safeties, including Hall of Famers STEVE ATWATER, BRIAN DAWKINS and ED SHIELD. It was 16 years before Butler joined former teammates White and Brett Favre in the hall.

One of his main supporters has been Atwater for years.

“I think we all overcome some adversity, but that’s just a whole other level,” Atwater told The Associated Press. “Not being selected for teams because of the situation with his legs and then going through that – also the mental part of it, you have to be so strong mentally – and playing at the high level that he was playing at is amazing.”

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