GREEN BAY, Wis. — LeRoy Butler has no idea why he still hasn’t been offered a coaching job in the NFL. It’s not for a lack of desire or interest. It’s not for a lack of knowledge about the league that he spent more than a decade in, winning a Super Bowl and being named to four Pro Bowls along the way.
So, then what exactly is keeping the former Green Bay Packers star safety from beginning his NFL coaching career?
“It’s a big brother system,” Butler told FOXSportsWisconsin.com. “They basically hire their buddies. That’s what they do.”
Butler isn’t without high-ranking friends across the NFL. One of those friends is Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew. Unfortunately for Butler, that relationship has yet to help him break into the coaching ranks.
“He was my best friend in college,” Butler said of Mayhew. “We grew up together. Every year we talk and he says, ‘I don’t have anything here, but let’s keep the dialogue going.’ He made calls for me. When he first got that job, I thought I was in, but he said he couldn’t do a whole lot. Maybe that’s something for the future.”
Initially, the team that Butler really wanted to coach for was the Packers. It was the team Butler was drafted by in 1990 and the only one he ever played for. But, despite his best efforts, Butler claims he has been repeatedly turned down — and sometimes even ignored — by Green Bay’s front office.
“The Packers think I want to be bigger than the team,” Butler said. “That’s not it at all. (General manager) Ted Thompson has my direct line and he wouldn’t call me up and offer anything. I live in Green Bay, and I can’t get a job with the Packers. I think I should be working there.”
In January 2012, Butler told FOXSportsWisconsin.com that his dream was to once again be a part of the Packers organization, adding, “I don’t care if it’s as a janitor.” When Mike McCarthy was hired as Green Bay’s head coach in 2005, Butler was unable to get his foot in the door.
“I didn’t even get an opportunity to get an interview,” Butler said last year. “You don’t even understand how depressing that was.”
Butler had others in the league he thought could help him get a coaching job, including former Packers executives John Dorsey — who is the new general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs and whom Butler called “a good friend” — and Reggie McKenzie, who took over as Oakland Raiders general manager in 2012.
“I called them and didn’t get a call back,” Butler said.
Another spot Butler thought he might land was with the Miami Dolphins after his former coach in Green Bay, Mike Sherman, became offensive coordinator. That, too, has not produced anything.
“Out of thousands of coaches I had, I know for a fact that Mike Sherman was the only one that I felt like really valued who I was as LeRoy Butler,” he said. “He always made me feel appreciated on and off the field. I’ll just never forget that.
“When (Sherman) got fired (from Texas A&M in December 2011), we had a long conversation and he said, ‘Stick to it, stick to it.’ I think he can call (Dolphins head coach) Joe Philbin for me next year and try to get me in there. They didn’t have anything this year. In the future, Miami would be something I hope works out.”
Butler’s biggest concern is that NFL executives might think he doesn’t want to coach. Butler worries, given that he’s 12 years removed from the league as a player, that he’s viewed as someone who wants no part of the time-consuming job of coaching.
“I just want an interview,” Butler said. “If they ask me a question, they’re going to like what I have to say. I have a hard time believing that if you have a position open that you wouldn’t call me. I know I can help a young man develop. I just want to help.”
Butler recently spoke with an assistant coach from the Minnesota Vikings’ staff who confirmed his fear about the perception surrounding him.
“He thought I didn’t want to coach,” Butler said. “He was shocked. He said, ‘LeRoy, come on, your name is bigger than anybody trying to get in the league. You can get in the league.'”
In 2004, Butler got to work in a somewhat unofficial capacity under Sherman in Green Bay. Since then, however, he hasn’t gotten another coaching offer.
“My other dream was to be a coach in the NFL; Then, after that, I can die,” Butler told FOXSportsWisconsin last year. “I don’t have a word for how excited I would be if for some reason I was to get a coaching opportunity somewhere in the NFL.”
Butler is ready to become more proactive to finally find a coaching job. He’s been seeking advice, taking notes and game-planning his next step with the hope that he’ll soon be game-planning in coaches’ meetings.
“I need to reach out and find some agent who knows these general managers to put a bug in their ear,” Butler said. “I have to get an agent who can let them know my intentions. Someone also said I should send a letter to all the owners and GMs. I just have get out in front of it next time and I’m going to do that. I’m going to be all over it.
“I’m not going to give up.”
Butler’s top choice is to be a secondary or safeties coach, but he’s also willing to go through the coaching internship program if that’s his only way in. He noted former Packers cornerback Al Harris, who spent the 2012 season as an intern with the Dolphins before being hired this offseason as the secondary coach for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Sooner or later, though, Butler just wants a chance to prove that he can be as good of a coach as he was as a player.
“I don’t think there’s a guy in this world that knows more about safeties than me,” Butler said. “I played it, I studied it, I know the dos and don’ts and know what you need to get to the next level, and then how you facilitate it. You have to get these kids the right information so they can perform at a high level.
“In this league, with some of these defenses so putrid, why wouldn’t they want a guy like me on their staff?”