Jack Butler died on Saturday, just a few months after the once-unheralded player was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Butler was part of the 2012 class of inductees to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He played nine dominant seasons as cornerback for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1950s, ending his career No. 2 all time for interceptions. Butler would have had a good chance at finishing as the top interceptor at the time, but his career was cut short by a devastating knee injury.
In August, Jack Butler was introduced into the Hall of Fame by son John. After waiting 51 years to be enshrined, Butler seemed to relish the occasion in front of a large group of of Steelers fans in the crowd.
“I never envisioned being here in Canton,” Butler said at his induction. “This induction is the highest honor I’ve achieved in my professional career. I am truly honored to be included with all these great players here.”
For Jack Butler, the path to the NFL was anything but conventional. Instead of playing high school football he spent his youth in a monastery, planning to become a priest.
He picked up the sport at St. Bonaventure University, but went undrafted after a strong college career. He made it on the Pittsburgh Steelers as an undrafted free agent, the start of his nine year career.
“I loved the game,” he said last summer before his August induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “I loved playing the game, I liked everything that went with it, the friends, everything, all the action. I liked the [fame], I liked it all. I enjoyed it. I would have done it forever if I could have.”
Butler had been in the hospital since November with a lingering staph infection that attacked his artificial knee replacement.
Jack Butler died early Saturday morning.
“His heart just stopped,” said Butler’s son, who was hired by the Steelers as a scout on Thursday. “He was completely lucid last night, my sister and brother made him a root beer float and he went to sleep. He never complained, never said anything hurt.”
Ironically, Jack Butler dies in nearly the same way his football career ended. He suffered a knee injury so severe that a life-threatening staph infection set in.