The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is counting down the Top 50 players in Atlanta Falcons history during the franchise’s 50th anniversary season. No. 43 is cornerback Bobby Butler.
Years played for Falcons: Bobby Butler played all 12 NFL seasons in Atlanta after being selected in the first round of the 1981 draft 25th overall. The former Florida State Seminole started as a freshman and, unlike later seasons when opponents rarely threw to his side of the field, he finished with 11 interceptions and was named third team Associated Press All-American. The Seminoles were 39-8 during his career with two Orange Bowl appearances. During his career with the Falcons, Butler intercepted 27 passes, the sixth most in franchise history.
Jersey No.: 23
His impact on the team: His consistency was matched by few around the league over his 169-game career and while he never made it to a Pro Bowl, he was always considered one of the better defensive backs in the NFL. Although Atlanta enjoyed just two winning seasons with Butler on the roster, he and opposite cornerback Scott Case helped form one of the best ballhawking duos in franchise history. Upon joining the team in 1984, Case and Butler spent nine seasons together patrolling the secondary and combined came away with 44 interceptions. Butler played for five Falcons coaches (Leeman Bennett, Dan Henning, Marion Campbell, Jim Hanifan and Jerry Glanville). He retired after the 1992 season, going into the financial industry where he sold insurance and securities before retiring five years ago.
On being drafted by the Falcons: “I was told by my agent that I possibly could be a first-round pick. Back then, the draft started early and I almost slept through the first round. My fiancee (Tyrillyn) woke me up and I received a call from (personnel director) Gil Brandt at Dallas who said if I was available, they were going to take me. But I was happy about going to the Falcons. I was just happy to be a first round pick."
On his ability to shutdown receivers and adapt to playing in different systems: “I could really cover one-on-one and learned that at FSU. I remember Marion Campbell coming in and it was all different because we played 10 yards off the ball and I was thinking in my head this can’t work. I remember Marion telling me, ‘This is the way you are going to play,’ and I knew I had to learn it if I was going to survive under him. But he turned our defense from one of the worst in the league into one of the top 10."
Where he is now: Butler, 56, lives in Norcross and has four sons: Brenton, Brice, Brelan and Brandel. He has been married to Tyrillyn for 33 years. All four boys went to Norcross High School, three of them (Brenton, Brelan and Brandel) playing basketball and collecting two state championship rings while Brice currently is a receiver with the Dallas Cowboys, being traded from the Oakland Raiders earlier this season after Dez Bryant broke his foot. With former Falcons teammate Buddy Curry in 2002, Butler started Kids & Pros, which teaches football fundamental skills and character lessons to young players. He also is an assistant pastor for New Destiny Christian Ministries.
50: Chuck Smith
49: Michael Haynes
47: John Zook
46: Ken Reaves
45: Lynn Cain
44: Justin Blalock
43: Bobby Butler