GREEN BAY, Wis. — LeRoy Butler wants to be a coach in the NFL. He doesn’t care which team it’s for. He doesn’t care what the pay is. He doesn’t care what his job title is. He just wants a chance to prove himself.
Butler, a Super Bowl champion and four-time Pro Bowl safety with the Green Bay Packers, recently hired an agent to help him find his first coaching opportunity in the NFL.
“There were two dreams I had when I retired,” said Butler, 43, who played his final snaps in 2001. “The first dream was to have a son because I had four daughters. I have a 10-month-old son now. My other dream was to be a coach in the NFL. Then, after that, I can die.
“They don’t even have to pay me, that’s how bad I would love it. I don’t have a word for how excited I would be if for some reason I was to get a coaching opportunity somewhere in the NFL. I know for a fact I can help a team.”
Originally, Butler only wanted to coach with the Packers. It was the only NFL team he ever played for, and he felt loyal to the franchise that gave him a 12-year playing career. But head coach Mike McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson, who were hired in Green Bay several years after Butler’s career ended, simply had no interest in him as a coach.
“I’ve written letters, I’ve talked with people, I’ve told them,” Butler said. “My dream was to be a part of the Packer organization. I don’t care if it’s as a janitor. I just wanted an opportunity to just share my views and my opinions on how to fix the defense or what I think.
“But when you don’t have any experience, then that’s a good way to ignore you. But how are you going to ever get experience if somebody doesn’t give you an opportunity when you played 12 years? I can see if I didn’t know the game, but I think I know the game as good as anybody else. I value that it takes 15- to 16-hour days, but I just think I can help a young man get to that next level.”
Butler’s coaching career nearly began seven years ago. When Mike Sherman was coaching the Packers, he invited Butler to essentially be an intern on his staff. Sherman was both the head coach and general manager for Green Bay from 2000-04, and it was in ‘04 that Butler shadowed the coaching staff. When Thompson was hired as general manager in 2005, he let Sherman coach one more season but with far less control over the franchise.
“I was up there, (and) I used to dress like the coaches, give my opinion and I was involved with the organization,” Butler said. “(Sherman) said if I really wanted to do it, he’d give a shot to be the assistant defensive backs coach (in 2005). He was going to do that, but he got fired, then I never got that chance.”
Once McCarthy was hired following the Packers 4-12 season in 2005, he brought in his own staff of coaches.
“I didn’t even get an opportunity to get an interview,” Butler said. “You don’t even understand how depressing that was.”
That was the first time Butler had been passed over as a potential coaching candidate, but it wasn’t his last.
“I really thought that when Coach (Mike) Holmgren took over in Cleveland (as team president in 2010), he’d bring me out there, but that didn’t happen,” said Butler, who played seven seasons under Holmgren in Green Bay. “I was pretty disappointed about that.”
Butler may have one more shot at coaching, though, and it could happen soon. Sherman is currently a leading candidate to fill the vacant head coaching spot of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and has already interviewed twice with the team.
“I’m just hoping that Mike Sherman may get that job because he was the only coach that valued who I was as LeRoy Butler,” he said. “I’m praying that he does get it. He’s in the running. That’d be awesome. I think about it every day.”
If that situation doesn’t work out for Butler, he’s just hoping some NFL coach will take a chance on a guy who intercepted 38 career passes, collected 20 sacks and was known as a locker-room leader.
“It doesn’t matter where it is, I’ll go anywhere,” Butler said.
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Butler is a member of the Super Bowl XXXI Green Bay Packer Team. www.MThreeMarketing.com
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