Former Steelers cornerback Jack Butler took his longest leap in his long wait at the door of the Pro Football Hall of Fame when he became one of two Seniors Committee nominees today.
A Pittsburgh native who lives in Munhall, Butler, 83, joins guard Dick Stanfel as the two seniors finalists for election in the Hall's Class of 2012. They will join 15 modern-era candidates on the ballot; the other candidates will not be chosen until December. The two seniors do not compete with the modern candidates for a spot in the Hall but are voted on separately and often both seniors are elected.
Both Butler and Stanfel were members of the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1950s.
Butler, a 6-1, 200-pound cornerback who played at St. Bonaventure, played nine seasons with the Steelers from 1951-59. He earned Pro Bowl honors four straight seasons (1956-59) and was named first-team All-NFL in the final three years of his career. Butler had 52 career interceptions for 827 yards and four touchdowns that included a league-high and career best 10 interceptions during the 1957 season.
Butler, who never played football in high school, went undrafted but, as the press release from the Hall of Fame stated, "quickly developed into one of the finest defensive players of the decade noted as not only a great interceptor but also as an outstanding tackler." When he retired because of a leg injury that nearly killed him, he was second in career interceptions in the NFL. He returned four of them for touchdowns, along with scoring on one fumble return.
After his retirement, Butler became a coach briefly, then went into scouting with the Steelers and became director of the BLESTO scouting network, a job he held for four decades.
Stanfel, a second-round pick from San Francisco by the Detroit Lions in 1951, was regarded as a premier guard during his era. He al;os played for the Washington Redskins, where he retired after the 1958 season.
First Published August 24, 2011 8:15 PM