The remarkable patience of Packers’ LeRoy Butler as he waited in the lobby

(EDITOR’S NOTE: To listen to LeRoy Butler, click on the following link: Ep 97: Hall of Famer LeRoy Butler joins the show | Loud speaker)

In my next life, I don’t want to have Job’s patience. I want to have the patience of LeRoy Butler.

He’s the former star guard for the Green Bay Packers who waited 16 years in Canton before being chosen in the Pro Football Hall-of-Fame Class of 2022. OK, so it’s not that unusual. But here it is: for 16 years, there were no complaints, no accusations, no threats, nothing.

LeRoy Butler was patient, trusting Hall voters to do the right thing. And they did.

Ultimately.

“If you knew my background, you wouldn’t be surprised,” he said in the latest “Eye Test for Two” podcast (fullpresscoverage.com).

OK, try us.

“All my life, he says, I’ve basically been patient. I remember telling my mom I wanted to play in the NFL when I was eight. You know, the poverty…the inner city…the violence…the crime…there was no air conditioning in the South…and I was a special needs kid. I couldn’t read and I always had to bide my time. I don’t know why God chose me to do this.

But he did…or the Hall’s board of 49 selectors did, making Butler one of eight members of the Class of 2022. OK, so you knew that. But did you also know that he was the last first-team choice of all decades of the 1970s, 80s and 90s to reach Canton? True story. With tackle Jimbo Covert and Steve Atwater up for election in 2020, Butler was the last man out.

He had a Super Bowl ring. He was a multiple All-Pro and Pro Bowler. He was part of the first team for the whole decade. He was versatile, the first defensive back to enter the 20 Sack/20 Interception Club. And he was an innovator, creating the iconic Lambeau Leap when he jumped into the Green Bay crowd on December 26, 1993 in a game against the then Los Angeles Raiders.

Bottom line: He had a Hall of Fame resume.

Still, it took him 12 years to become a semi-finalist and another 14 to become a finalist. Maybe that doesn’t seem long to you, but try to live in LeRoy Butler’s shoes. Believe me, you would be frustrated. Maybe LeRoy Butler was too, but we never found out.

“Let’s come back real quick,” he said. “The first year I was a runner-up (2020) was amazing because I got to see Roger Staubach, and I loved Roger Staubach. I mean, I would trade all my Pro Bowls just to shake his hand. So that was fun.

“The next year was in the middle of the pandemic and Mr. Baker (David Baker, former CEO and Hall chairman) called me, and he said, ‘Unfortunately…’ I cut it. I said, ‘I’ll see you next year.’ These calls can be difficult. The guys want to come in, and I said, ‘I can wait until next year, sir. It’s not serious.

“You know how they say ‘Patience is a virtue?’ Some children don’t understand this. They want it right away. It’s no different than getting into the Hall of Fame. But every year, I just said, ‘It will happen soon. You just have to be patient and wait. Because I never wanted to yell at voters too much. My fans would. But I never did that. I just thought that sooner or later it would happen.

Turns out it was earlier. Or later, depending on your schedule. Either way, Butler’s story has a happy ending. He is one of two finalists in their 16and years of eligibility elected in the class of 2022. Tackling Tony Boselli is the other.

The two were chosen when Hall voters met virtually on Jan. 18, but weren’t told until at least a week later when the Hall-of-Famers showed up at their front doors. For Butler, that Hall of Famer was former Raiders and Packers star Charles Woodson, elected in Canton last year.

It was good. The expectation was not. True to character, Butler usually never lets talk.

“It was difficult because I didn’t know it,” he said. “We even joked that Watergate had leaked. It didn’t leak. The biggest story. And then when the Tom Brady thing happened. But that hasn’t been disclosed yet.

“That’s really how I felt: I felt like a young woman was waiting to be proposed by a guy. She likes the guy, and they can have kids. Every year, you think he’s gonna propose, and he doesn’t. OK, this is the year. And he doesn’t.

“And then when you give up and say, ‘I give it to God. He will never do it? Next thing you know, there’s a knock on the door, and it’s Woodson with the ring. I said “Yes”, by the way.”

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