Unfortunately, most guys on the selection committee don’t value safeties. Butler has never once made it to the semifinalist round, while (in our eyes) lesser safeties like Brian Dawkins, John Lynch and Steve Atwater have. Butler is just one of three non-specialists on the 1990s All-Decade team not in the Hall of Fame — the others are Atwater and tackle Tony Boselli.
Up until this year, when he was elected by the seniors committee, former Seattle safety Kenny Easley was one of just two non-specialists on the 1980s All-Decade team not in the Hall of Fame (the other is tackle Jimbo Covert). Like Butler, he had never even been a finalist on the ballot in 25 years as a regular candidate.
Considering their similar fates thus far, that seems like Butler’s best chance of getting in.
“I thought that was big,” said Butler of Easley’s selection. “I was glad to see a safety get in, but I also thought Brian Dawkins would get in and he didn’t and neither did John Lynch.”
Butler and others have long talked about another safety breaking the barrier. That if Dawkins, Lynch or Atwater get elected, then perhaps that will open the door for other modern safeties. That, however, seems pretty doubtful. The voters are obviously loathe to put one safety in, why would they suddenly go on a run and elect four or five?
No, Butler’s wait is probably going to be a long one. It’s probably going to look much like Easley’s.
We do still think he’ll get in, but only after his regular eligibility runs out. The seniors committee has a way of rectifying the mistakes of the voters at large, like they finally did with Dave Robinson in 2013. That guy had to wait forever.
Hopefully, LeRoy won’t have it quite that bad.