James Butler’s Super Bowl was special

Published 6:37 am Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sunday’s Super Bowl game between the National Football Conference champion New York Giants and the American Football Conference champion New England Patriots in Indianapolis should be both high-scoring and entertaining.

It will be a rematch of the 2007 Super Bowl when New York quarterback Eli Manning outdueled New England quarterback Tom Brady and the Giants edged the Patriots 17-14, ruining their undefeated season.

That Super Bowl was an especially exciting one for me because it featured James Butler Jr., a Giants starting defensive back who I covered when he was an All-Region 1-AAAA defensive back with the Bainbridge High School Bearcats.

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James went on to earn All-Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) honors as a defensive back with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, before starting his National Football League career with the Giants.

James’s parents, the Rev. James and Nadine Butler, formerly of Climax, went to Phoenix, Ariz., for the Super Bowl game.

Before leaving, the Butlers arranged for me and my dear friend Billy Simmons Jr. to watch the game with members of the Butler family at a local church. It was a really enjoyable experience.

During the halftime break, as we all enjoyed a lot of delicious food prepared by Butler family members, many of them related stories about their memories of James growing up.

When James arrived back home from the Super Bowl, Climax city officials, with the help of Climax resident Chip Ariail, who coached James at Hutto Middle School, arranged a “James Butler Day.”

The day began with a parade, led by James, his parents and coach Kelvin Cochran, who coached him in football and basketball at Bainbridge High School.

City, county and state officials honored James on the dignitaries’ stage. The highlight of the day came when Decatur County Sheriff Wiley Griffin unveiled a sign naming a portion of U.S. Highway 84 that runs through Climax, for James.

James, who played for the St. Louis Rams following his tenure with the Giants, is currently a NFL free agent.

During his professional football career, James, through his James Butler Dream Foundation, has given back to Climax, Bainbridge and Decatur County.

Each year during the offseason, he comes home and gives a clinic for youngsters at Centennial Field. He sends money home to purchase Thanksgiving dinners for needy families, purchase gift certificates for strong elementary school students and purchase haircuts.

James Butler is a special young man and I feel honored to have had the oppoortunity to cover a small part of his outstanding athletic career.

Joe Crine is the sports editor of The Post-Searchlight. You can email him at joe.crine@thepostsearchlight.com