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LeRoy Butler selected as one of 15 finalists for Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2022

This is Butler’s third consecutive year as a finalist. Will he finally get his gold jacket in 2022?

Leroy Butler #36

Maybe the third time really is the charm.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced the finalists for its enshrinement class of 2022, and for the third straight season, former Green Bay Packers safety LeRoy Butler is one of them. Butler, who was one of the most complete safeties in modern football history, will hope to earn his gold jacket when the class is revealed at the NFL Honors on February 10th, the eve of Super Bowl LVI.

Butler has seen other safeties selected for enshrinement ahead of him in each of the past two seasons, with Steve Atwater and Troy Polamalu going in as part of the class of 2019 and John Lynch earning his jacket last year. Butler has a strong statistical case to be considered as the best of these players, and he was certainly a more complete player than either Atwater or Lynch.

Butler’s stat line for his career is stunning. He was a four-time first-team All-Pro and a first-team member of the Hall of Fame’s All-1990s team, and he remains one of only a handful of members of that team not already enshrined in the Hall. He recorded 38 interceptions, 13 forced fumbles, and 20.5 sacks in his career. His 1996 season — when the Packers went 13-3 and won Super Bowl XXXI — is one of the finest by a safety in team and league history. That year, he recorded five interceptions (including one that he returned for a touchdown), a forced fumble, 87 total tackles, and a whopping 6.5 sacks, a career high.

Considering his dominance at strong safety for a decade, it is easy to forget that Butler entered the NFL as a cornerback, playing significantly as a rookie and starting all 16 games at corner in his second season. But in 1992, his second year, a new coaching staff led by Mike Holmgren and defensive coordinator Fritz Shurmur moved him to strong safety, where he blossomed.

If one subscribes to the old adage that “if you can’t tell the story of football without him, he should be in the Hall,” Butler absolutely deserves induction. In addition to his dominance on the field, he also started one of the NFL’s most enduring traditions: the Lambeau Leap. Butler first leapt into the stands after scoring a touchdown against the Los Angeles Raiders in 1993, sparking the celebration that continues to this day.

With Butler on the finalist list once again, Packers fans the world over can maintain their hope that Butler will be enshrined this coming year in Canton. Butler should have an excellent chance to get in this year, however, as the list of modern-era finalists is as follows:

  • DE Jared Allen
  • OT Willie Anderson
  • CB Ronde Barber
  • OT Tony Boselli
  • S LeRoy Butler
  • WR/KR Devin Hester
  • WR Torry Holt
  • WR Andre Johnson
  • LB Sam Mills
  • DL Richard Seymour
  • LB Zach Thomas
  • LB DeMarcus Ware
  • WR Reggie Wayne
  • LB Patrick Willis
  • DL Bryant Young