Jack Butler

Class of 2012

All-NFL selections




Pro Bowls




"When I was a kid, I dreamed about being a football player. And here I am, Jack Butler from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, going into the Hall of Fame. I can't believe it.”

Enshrinement Speech

Career Highlights

Jack Butler joined the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1951 as a free agent out of St. Bonaventure. Over the next nine NFL seasons, he established himself as one of the game's most effective cornerbacks. He ranked as the NFL's second all-time leading interceptor when he retired following the 1959 season.

Butler, also known as a great tackler, demonstrated his knack for finding the football beginning in his rookie campaign when he registered five interceptions. The following season he led the Steelers for the first of five times when he picked off seven passes. He had nine interceptions a season later in 1953 that included a record-tying four interceptions in a game against the Washington Redskins. A year later, he added four more interceptions to his career total, two of which he returned for touchdowns, an NFL record at the time.

Yet, despite the fact he recorded 25 interceptions in his first four seasons, personal accolades eluded Butler. It wasn't until later in his career that he received his just due. Oddly, his first of four Pro Bowl nods came following the 1955 season, the only year of his career in which he failed to intercept a pass although he had two steals in his Pro Bowl debut. In his sixth season in 1956, he was selected as a second-team All-NFL choice. In 1957 he picked off a career-best 10 passes to share the league lead in that category. He was named first-team All-NFL. He added nine more interceptions in 1958 and had two interceptions in 1959 and was voted to the first-team All-NFL squad in each of those seasons.

Butler suffered a severe leg injury in a game against the Philadelphia Eagles late in the 1959 season when he became tangled up with Eagles' tight end Pete Retzlaff away from the play. Unfortunately, the injury forced him into retirement. But, it was not before he left his mark on the game. In 103 games, Butler intercepted 52 passes which he returned for 827 yards, and had four pick-sixes. He also had four touchdown receptions and returned one fumble recovery for a score. Butler was named to the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1950s.

Year Team G Int Yds Avg TD
1951 Pittsburgh 12 5 142 28.4 1
1952 Pittsburgh 12 7 168 24.0 0
1953 Pittsburgh 12 9 147 16.3 1
1954 Pittsburgh 12 4 75 18.8 2
1955 Pittsburgh 12 0 0 0.0 0
1956 Pittsburgh 12 6 113 18.8 0
1957 Pittsburgh 12 10 85 8.5 0
1958 Pittsburgh 12 9 81 9.0 0
1959 Pittsburgh 7 2 16 8.0 0
Career Total 103 52 827 15.9 4

Additional Career Statistics: Receiving: 7-102, 4 TD; Punt Returns: 3-17; Fumble Recovery for TD: 1

All-NFL: 1957 (AP, UPI, NEA, NY) • 1958 (AP, UPI, NEA, NY) • 1959 (AP, UPI, NEA, NY)



All-NFL Second Team: 1956 (AP, NEA)



All-Eastern Conference: 1956 (SN) • 1957 (SN) • 1958 (SN) • 1959 (SN)

(4) – 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959

(at time of his retirement following 1959 season)

• [Tied for 1st] Most Interceptions Returned for Touchdown, Season – 2 (1954)
• [Tied for 1st] Most Interceptions, Game – 4 (at Washington, Dec. 13, 1953)
• [Tied for 2nd] Most Interceptions, Career – 52

Steelers records held by Butler
(Records through the 1959 season, Butler's final season with Pittsburgh)

• [1st] Most Interceptions, Career – 52
• [1st] Most Interception Return Yardage, Career – 827
• [1st] Most Interceptions Returned for Touchdown, Career – 4
• [1st] Most Interceptions, Game – 4 (at Washington, Dec. 13, 1953)
• [Tied for 1st] Most Interceptions Returned for Touchdown, Season – 2 (1954)
• [Tied for 1st] Most Interceptions, Season – 10 (1957)
• [2nd] Most Interceptions, Season – 9 (1953, 1958)

NFL Statistical Championships
Interception Titles: 1957

Team Statistical Championships
Interception Titles: 1952, 1953, 1956, 1957, 1958

• 1950s All-Decade Team

Year Team W L T Division Finish
1951 Pittsburgh Steelers 4 7 1 (4th)
1952 Pittsburgh Steelers 5 7 0 (4th)
1953 Pittsburgh Steelers 6 6 0 (4th)
1954 Pittsburgh Steelers 5 7 0 (4th)
1955 Pittsburgh Steelers 4 8 0 (6th)
1956 Pittsburgh Steelers 5 7 0 (5th)
1957 Pittsburgh Steelers 6 6 0 (3rd)
1958 Pittsburgh Steelers 7 4 1 (3rd)
1959 Pittsburgh Steelers 6 5 1 (4th)

Full Name: John Bradshaw Butler

Birthdate: November 12, 1927

Birthplace: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Died: May 11, 2013 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

High School: Mount Carmel (Niagara Falls, Canada)

Elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame: February 4, 2012

Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame: August 4, 2012

Presenter: John Butler, Jack's son

Other Members of Class of 2012: Dermontti Dawson, Chris Doleman, Cortez Kennedy, Curtis Martin, Willie Roaf

Pro Career: 9 seasons, 103 games

Acquired: Signed as a rookie free agent by the Pittsburgh Steelers

Uniform: 80 (25)

Pro Football Hall of Fame Field at Fawcett Stadium
August 4, 2012

Jack Butler:


Okay.  It is difficult to remember and to thank everyone who has had an effect on my life.  I have to give special thanks to my parents, to my four brothers, my two sisters, and my wife, Bernadette. I'd also like to acknowledge our four sons and our four daughters, and our fifteen grandchildren.

I can't figure out what caused all of this.  It is important to acknowledge the Rooney family and the McGinley families. They have impacted my life and the lives of my entire family tremendously. I would also like to thank the people of Canton, Steve Perry, and the Hall of Fame staff.

I have been very fortunate and I've had a lot to be thankful for.  I was born with a talent to play football, had the motivation to become the best player that I could, and I also was fortunate enough to play in the great city of champions, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

I never envisioned being here in Canton.  This induction is the highest honor I have achieved in my professional career.  I've always been grateful and happy to have played and to have a 56-year career doing the things I've always loved, being involved in professional football, as a player, as a coach, as a scout, and as an administrator.

I am truly honored to be included with all of these great players that have received me here.  I humbly thank the voters who deemed me worthy to be here.

I am grateful and very proud to be part of this great Class of 2012, and I congratulate the five tremendous men who join me here.  I am thankful to God for all that I have been given throughout my life.  I am thankful for the support of my family and friends.  I am thankful for my brother, my sister who are here to witness this.  I am thankful for my wife, my children, my grandchildren that are here to see this also.  Heck, I'm thankful I'm here.

I thank you all.

Presenter Video: John Butler presents father, Jack