Remembering Jack Butler: As Told By Fellow Alum Terrance Neidl

Remembering Jack Butler: As Told By Fellow Alum Terrance Neidl

Terrance Neidl, ’04, is a St. Bonaventure football historian who maintains the website SBUFootball.net. He always had a fondness for Jack Butler, and last August experienced Jack’s enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame with the former Bonaventure and Pittsburgh Steelers legend. Below is how he will remember Jack, who passed away on Saturday at the age of 85.

Humility. This word is the best way I can describe Jack Butler. Jack had absolutely no reason to possess this virtue. He could’ve been cocky because he made four consecutive Pro Bowls. He could’ve been arrogant because he is ranked 26th all-time on the NFL career interceptions list with 52. He could’ve been smug because he was named as one of the 33 greatest Pittsburgh Steelers of all-time. And, he had every reason in the world to be boastful when he was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012.

If you met Jack, you would realize that he completely embodies the definition of humility. With all the accolades and recognition that Jack has collected throughout his football career, he never forgot how to remain grounded, a trait that can be easily lost with a résumé such as his.

The only time I met Jack was in Canton, Ohio, during his enshrinement to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It was a steamy evening when the crowd entered Fawcett Stadium. As Chris Berman introduced the Class of 2012, there were no cheers louder than those for Jack. There he was, on the highest stage in professional football, his blue eyes surveying the crowd, drinking in the moment.

Jack came to the podium to address the crowd. After thanking his parents and his family, he stated, “I can’t figure out what caused all of this.” He closed his speech with these sentences: “I am thankful for the support of my family and friends. I am thankful for my brother, my sister who are here to witness this. I am thankful for my wife, my children, my grandchildren that are here to see this also. Heck, I’m thankful I’m here. I thank you all.”

After the ceremony came to a close, I was lucky enough to be with Jack at his reception. I took the time to thank him for the interview he gave me earlier in the week, and introduced him to my wife (pictured). He was happy to put my face to my name, and he shook my hand hard as he told me he was glad to have me there. After the whirlwind of interviews, photographs, speeches, receptions, autographs and activities, I could tell Jack was happiest to be able to share this moment with his family and friends.

One of Jack’s friends – and former Bona teammate, Ted Marchibroda – shared a few words and a hug with Jack before retiring for the evening. It was pretty amazing for me to see the former St. Bonaventure quarterback congratulate his wide receiver on such an honor.

Jack Butler passed away on Saturday, May 11, 2013, but this fellow alumnus will never forget him. He led his life with character, responsibility and virtue. His spirit will live on, carried by his wife, his eight children, his 15 grandchildren, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Rooney family, the McGinley family, St. Bonaventure University and all the lives that he was a part of. Rest peacefully, Jack. You will always remain in our hearts.

What Others Are Saying About Jack:

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette   |   NFL   |   The Buffalo News   |   Pittsburgh Steelers