Canton, Ohio – LeRoy Butler jumped into the Pro Football Hall of Fame with the same enthusiasm he enjoyed celebrating big games at Lambeau Field.
That quadruple All-Pro security was the first of eight members of the Class of 2022 anchored at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium on Saturday.
“DJ Khaled put it best: ‘God did it,'” Butler began, referring to the song. “When you play for the Green Bay Packers, a lot of doors open. Winning a Super Bowl opens more doors. When you’re inducted into the Hall of Fame, soccer heaven opens up. It’s a rare company.”
Butler drew cheers from the Jaguars fans in attendance to see Tony Boselli’s introduction when he mentioned growing up in Jacksonville.
“Thanks, Duval,” Butler said. “My mom, growing up poor, made us think rich every day because it’s not about what you wear or what you have, it’s how you act.”
Butler helped restore Green Bay’s glory days during a 12-year career. His versatility as a safety set the standard for a new wave at the position, earning him a spot on the 1990s league All-Decade Team.
Butler originated the “Lambeau Leap” and had a key sack in Green Bay’s Super Bowl win over New England. He came close to becoming the first player in league history to finish his career with 40 interceptions and 20 sacks.
Sam Mills, the 5-foot-9 linebacker Nickname “Field Mouse” He was posthumously inducted after Butler during his 12-year career with the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers. Mills was an inspirational figure and overcame tremendous odds to even make the NFL.
Mills played Division III college football and was not drafted. He was cut by the CFL’s Cleveland Browns and Toronto Argonauts and began his pro career with the USFL’s Philadelphia Stars. Jim Mora, who coached the stars, brought him to New Orleans in 1986 and Mills has never looked back.
“He was told he wasn’t good enough to play college football or big enough to play pro football and at age 27 he wasn’t young enough to play in the NFL, and yet let’s celebrate here today,” said Melanie Mills, Sam’s widow.
Mills had 1,265 tackles, had 23 fumble recoveries, forced 22 fumbles, had 20 1/2 sacks and caught 11 passes in 12 seasons. He was also part of the first four playoff teams in Saints history and the first in Panthers history.
Mills became an assistant coach with the Panthers after his retirement. He was diagnosed with colon cancer prior to the 2003 season, but continued to train during his treatment and delivered his so-called “keep pounding” speech on the eve of the club’s Super Bowl game against New England later that season.
Mills died in April 2005 at the age of 45. His “keep pounding” remains the Panthers’ slogan.
In a year without candidates for the first ballot, recruits had to wait a long time to reach the hall.
Defensive tackle Richard Seymour was not long in coming to find success in the NFL. He was part of three Super Bowl championship teams in his first four seasons with the New England Patriots.
Seymour pointed out the defensive stalwarts on those teams but didn’t mention Tom Brady by name.
“We had a young quarterback, but we made it work,” Seymour said, drawing a giggle from the crowd.
Seymour had 57 1/2 career sacks in 12 seasons, the first eight in New England, before retiring with the Oakland Raiders.
“I’m overcome with humility because it’s not about what that says about me, it’s about what it says about us and what we can do together,” he said. “I’m overwhelmed with gratitude because I didn’t come here alone. Neither of us did. None of us could have done that.”
Seymour, 42, choked and thanked his wife Tanya.
“Football is what I do but family is what I am,” he said. “Thank you for everything you’ve added to my life. This day belongs to my family. Scripture teaches that your wealth lies in your family.”
Seymour called his three children his “greatest joy.”
“Of all I have achieved, there is no greater honor than being your father,” he said.
Seymour praised Patriots owner Robert Kraft and former Raiders owner Al Davis and his son Mark Davis.
He credited his success to the lessons he learned from Patriots coach Bill Belichick: work hard, be meticulous in your preparation, support your teammates, and respect your opponents.
“It wouldn’t have happened without Coach Belichick,” Seymour said.
Longtime acting department head Art McNally gave a video speech after being inducted as a contributor.
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