Next 'Leap' Into Glory

Enshrinement Published on : 2/18/2022
Leroy Butler is an icon in Racine, Wis., a relatively modest community of 77,081 just outside Milwaukee. Residents treasure the fact a living Packers great has chosen to call their city his home since his retirement after the 2001 season.

When Butler went to a local supermarket or when he dropped off his daughter and son at school, people approached him and said, “LeRoy, we know you will get into the Hall of Fame.” They appreciated the 12 seasons – four at the first-team All-Pro level – he gave to the Packers.

But those flattering words were a double-edged sword for this soft-spoken, humble man. “It gives me a lift at first, especially when I did not get into the Hall for four years as a Finalist, but when I go home, it gets me down.”

He wondered, “When will I get in?”

As a child, Butler got great advice from his mother when they were going through tough times together.

“LeRoy, do the right thing,” she told him. “Be patient, and God will bring it to you in time.”

That advice rang true when Butler made it to the NFL and became a Super Bowl champion. Not to mention the iconic “Lambeau Leap” that lives forever in NFL folklore. It was Butler who marketed the phrase.

The original knock plan for Butler called for a slightly different approach. Instead of waiting at the front door, camera operators would surprise him as he walked outside to drive his son, LeRoy Butler IV, to school – something he did daily.

Bitter cold intervened, however, and NFL Network producer Jim Fabio suggested they revert to a door knock with Hall of Famer Charles Woodson and move inside for the family’s reaction.

🎥 Watch LeRoy Butler's Knock:

Woodson knocked. Butler, opening the door, quickly said, “Who is this? Oh, man, stop.”

He closed the door just as quickly, forcing Woodson to knock again. This time Butler kept the door open: “Oh, man, what are you doing at my house!”

Woodson replied: “I came here to serve you some of that ‘Leap 36 Taco’ … Man, come on out here. It is cold.”

Butler gave Woodson a bear hug, lifting his feet off the ground. When he was lowered, Woodson gave his teammate one of his life’s greatest moments, saying: “LeRoy Butler, congratulations. You have made it to Canton, Ohio. Welcome to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”

Butler reflected. “When I saw your name going up in the rafters of Lambeau, I remember God saying, ‘LeRoy, you’re going in.’”

Everyone moved into the homey kitchen for interviews with NFL Network’s Steve Wyche. Hall of Fame President Jim Porter stood off to the side. When Butler was asked about the choice of Woodson to knock on his door, Butler’s eyes moved to Porter.

“I want to thank you for this great idea of having Hall of Famers do the knock,” he said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better choice than Charles. Thank you.”

As everything wrapped up, Butler already was thinking of his next marketing slogan.

“What about the ‘Last Leap’?” he said. Hall Producer George Veras countered: “LeRoy, your new journey as a Hall of Famer has just begun. What about the ‘Next Leap’?”

Butler thought for a moment. “I like it. See you in Canton.”