This past weekend football fans mourn the loss of Jack Butler, who died Saturday at the age of 85. Butler, a NFL Hall of Fame cornerback, who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers, revolutionized the way cornerbacks played in the NFL. Butler played wide receiver at Saint Bonaventure University but ignored the National Football league draft in 1951. Butler had all intentions on starting his Masters but received a phone call that summer from Steelers general manager, Fran Forgarty. Butler who initially didn’t believe the phone call said, “I didn’t know anything about professional football.”
Butler would go on to become one of the top defensive backs in the NFL. With a 6 foot 1′, 200 pound frame, he was known as a tough, physical player who was always on the ball. Butler’s stats consist of 52 career interceptions, as well as a leading the league with 10 in 1957. Butler was named to the Pro Bowl four times and selected first-team All-NFL three times. Butler played every professional game until he sustained a career-ending knee injury in a collision with Philadelphia Eagles end Pete Retzlaff in 1959.
Butler recently spent the last several months in the hospital dealing with a staph infection that plagued him since his career ended in 1959. Butler’s son John spoke about his father, “It had been a long road,” John Butler said. “It wasn’t completely out of the blue.”
“He was an excellent person both on and off the field, and he played an integral role in the BLESTO scouting program and our entire draft process before his retirement.” “His family was very close to the entire Rooney family, and he will be missed.”
Pittsburgh Steelers chairman Dan Rooney
Butler is survived by his wife, Bernadette; his other sons, John, Kevin and Tim; his daughters, Maureen Maier, Bernadette Hobart, Kathy Butler Ruffalo and Mariann Butler; a brother, the Rev. Thomas Butler; a sister, Catherine Mooney; and 15 grandchildren.