LeRoy Butler, the man credited for making the Lambeau Leap famous in the 1990s, was back in Green Bay on Friday as the Green Bay Packers unveiled a statue outside Lambeau Field to commemorate what has become a team tradition.
Butler is generally credited with starting the trend of jumping into the stands in the end zone after scoring a touchdown when he did it after returning a lateral from Reggie White for a 25-yard touchdown against the Los Angeles Raiders in 1993.
“It was very spontaneous,” Butler told the Associated Press. “I can’t even tell a fib and say I thought about it.”
The sculpture is located on Harlan Plaza, near statues dedicated to team co-founder Curly Lambeau and coach Vince Lombardi, who led the Packers to five championships in the 1960s.
“It’s guys who are stuck with those end zone seats, touching and catching their favorite player,” Butler said. “It’s just awesome.”
It’s something that players from other teams have tried to duplicate, but it’s just not the same experience as it is at Lambeau, where the short walls behind the end zone make an inviting target for Packer touchdown producers large and small.
Even some opponents have tried to horn in on the fun, such as when then-Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco leaped into the crowd after scoring against the Pack in a 2009 game:
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers says it’s a tradition that involves the fans and that’s what makes it special.
“I know the fans that sit in the front row, they love it and they’re excited about it,” Rodgers said. “It’s a special moment to be able to celebrate with your teammates and then get in the stands right away and celebrate with the fans.”
Butler was a four-time All-Pro safety with the Packers from 1990-2001. He finished his career with 38 interceptions –tied for fourth on the team’s all-time list with Charles Woodson—and also logged 20½ sacks. He scored three touchdowns in his career, all of them at Lambeau Field.
Besides the lateral on the fumble recovery against the Raiders in 1993, Butler had a 90-yard interception return for a score against the San Diego Chargers in 1996 and a 32-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown against the Detroit Lions in 1998.
Butler was a second-round draft pick out of Florida State in 1990 as a cornerback, but his career took off when he was moved to strong safety in his third season.
He was named a first-team safety on the All-1990s team selected by the Pro Football Hall of Fame.